Colombian in Omaha: Culture Shock of Coming to America

This post is part of a series called Perspectives, written by Circles members. Perspectives will highlight the various experiences and identities of individuals from their unique worldview.


Coming to the United States was a wonderful experience. I was living with the love of my life in the country of my dreams. Like any new experience, there was a feeling of euphoria when I arrived in Omaha. I felt excited, stimulated and enriched.


The Honeymoon Stage did not last long. I started feeling confused and alone, and realized that I missed my family, culture, food, language, weather, friends and all that I had built in Colombia. In my country, I was a professional and a leader who worked on important projects. In my country, I had a maid and I received so many services. For example, in the gas station, I received full service free of cost. In the United States, I was nobody. I needed to cook, clean the house, clean my car and fill the tank of my own car with gasoline.


I felt depressed, frustrated and even hostile to those around me. I disliked the culture, the language, the food and I wanted to go “back home.” It was a dark time in my life. The symptoms of my cultural shock were a feeling of sadness and loneliness, insomnia and an overwhelming sense of homesickness.


In the first year, I traveled frequently to Colombia looking for my culture and the love of my family. God and my husband were my support. But I knew I needed to make Omaha my new home. I started exercising and volunteering with non-profit organizations. Working with other Colombians, we started the Colombian association called COLNEB. We helped integrate Colombians in Omaha and worked with many programs for them. I studied every day to improve my English skills. I was becoming myself again.


Once I embraced the new culture, I could see everything in a new, yet realistic light. I felt comfortable, confident, and able to make decisions based on my own preferences. I no longer felt alone and isolated. I appreciated both the differences and similarities of my new culture. I started to feel at home.


I love being an American citizen and part of the Omaha community.