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The Amazing, Frustrating Realities Of Being A First-Generation American

It may take a while, but it's only a matter of time before you notice.

When you're a kid, it's only a matter of time before you start to question why your friends get sent to their rooms when they're in trouble while you get sent to the guillotine when you get in trouble.

When you go to college, it's only a matter of time before you realize you need to go home with excessive amounts of Tupperware next time, because you just can't eat like everyone else.

It's only a matter of time until you realize you're just different, and with being a first-generation American come these amazing and frustrating realities:

You're bilingual by default.

Congratulations, you have a skill that may or may not be valuable in the professional field you choose to enter! There's nothing better than an asset you don't have to work for.

It's like having the God-given talent athletes have, except this one won't make you millions of dollars and the only reason you've been able to hone it is because your parents have yelled at you so many times.

You know, because everything sounds harsher in the native tongue.


Get ready for the “Can You Say Something In…?” demands.

Few things are more irritating than the one-two-combo question of, “Do you speak X?” and “OMG, can you say something in X right now!?”.

Despite the fact that no one wants to be put on the spot like that, you will be repeatedly put on the spot like that.

It goes right up there with those instances when someone who's done something annoying a million times says, “Name that one time” as one of the more annoying demands you just don't want to reply to, despite having the ability to.


Trying to figure out which phone cards last longer is impossible.

Listen, it's bad enough the only time your parents stick money in your hand it's for you to walk to the store and get a phone card.

But then again, you have to somehow conclude which one of your numerous options provides more minutes despite them all being the same prices and there being no obvious name brand.

“Well Tropicana Delight's $5 card gave us 40 minutes that one time, but then cut off on us early that other time.” It's a game you can't win.

And the blame will always come down on you if you didn't choose the “right” one, because, of course, it will.


You'll be forced into the awkward task of trying to have a sophisticated conversation with non-English speaking relatives.

Want to know what's more awkward than being forced to speak to that relative who's really excited to speak to you for a reason that is bound to be unclear to you at the age of 10?

Being expected to speak to said relative in a different language at a ninth grade level at the age of 10. And the stutters ensue…


Your friends will offer diplomatic suggestions as if you have “normal” parents.

No matter how many times you explain why you can't come home at 1 AM at 14 years of age, your friends still think they can tell you how to deal with your parents.

“Man, tell them you're a grown man.”

“Man, why don't you try to reason with them.”

Sure thing, guys, that'll do the trick.


You'll be given less than 24 hours notice before a group of relatives takes over half your household.

Your parents will never tell you “Auntie and Uncle are coming over for two weeks” with enough time for you to mentally prepare.

It's more than likely you'll be told the day before or, worse, you'll wake up with someone you may or may not have ever seen in your life sleeping next to you.


You'll begin to make your parents angrier than they already were when…

The more and more educated you become, the harder it will be to take what you once accepted as fact from your elders.

Sooner or later, you'll begin internally picking holes in the arguments your parents are vehemently making in broken English while holding off the laughter. The conviction in this broken English makes matters worse.

I still haven't heard the end of it since I laughed at my mother after she tried to tell me to grow up and said, “You're not a children anymore!”


Teaching your parents new technology is always an adventure.

Teaching older people how to use smartphones in itself is a task, teaching an older person who doesn't understand English how to do that is even worse.

Those tutorials and instruction booklets don't help either. They don't have iOS in the old country, you know.

God forbid you decide to show your parents how to leave you texts instead of voicemails. Now, you've really got a job on your hands.


Choosing a profession other than law or medicine will need extensive explanation.

Somewhere along the way, you'll realize your parents came to America just so they could say one day that their kids became doctors or lawyers.

And while becoming a businessman or an engineer is acceptable — eh, they'll take it — you can forget about it if you think you can choose any other profession without having to go through an FBI-level interrogation.


You'll always have perspective.

No matter where they're from, it's a good bet that any story from your parents of how and why they came here will inspire you to do better, if not move you to tears, because the answer is usually you.

You know you should be appreciative of what you have, but you'll also push for more if only just to reward their hard work and sacrifice.


No more calling cards: T-Mobile's Simple Global makes it possible to connect with your family in 120+ countries. And now with the new Mobile Without Borders program, you can talk and text to/from Canada and Mexico at no extra charge. Thanks to T-Mobile, staying in touch with your loved ones internationally has never been easier.

Joseph Milord

Editor

Joseph is a Senior Writer, Editor and early member of the Elite Daily team. He studied Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University and will probably call Jersey home forever.
Joseph is a Senior Writer, Editor and early member of the Elite Daily team. He studied Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University and will probably call Jersey home forever.

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