Lonely Hearted in America

by admin on August 26, 2009

You’ve met the Thai partner of your dreams: you’ve finally got his/her visa approved and are preparing to settle down for life in the United States.  With all legal considerations taken care of, there’s just one last glaring issue to face: how will your partner adjust to life in America?  The effects of culture shock are often overlooked and many Thais that immigrate to the home countries of their partners are not prepared for what their life will be like in a completely foreign country.

Culture Shock and Homesickness

For a foreign citizen immigrating to the US with their American partner, it is often assumed that the new life and relationship that America has to offer will overshadow any typical longing for home.  But culture shock goes beyond natural homesickness and can severely strain a new marriage.

If, for example, a Thai woman immigrates to the US, she will encounter a world far removed from the idealistic expectations generated by Hollywood movies.   Also Thai culture and media, such as music or television shows, are often dearly missed; American food is bland and Thai restaurants rarely do justice to Thai cuisine and Thai products often can’t be found in supermarkets; the cold weather typical of many states takes a while to get used to and may encourage her to stay at home rather than socialize.  Even worse, if her English language skills are not sufficient, she may find it hard to communicate. If she is living in a suburb, removed from the bustle of a city, the quiet streets can be a shock for those used to Thai cities; adjusting to an urban setting from a rural environment (and vice versa!) can be equally difficult.

Will a Thai Immigrant Community Help?

While it’s true that many American cities have Thai immigrant communities, associating with primarily Thai people will prevent a recent immigrant from adjusting to the wider American culture.  Immigrant communities, however, are often cliquey and the shared nationality can prove to be a weak link. For others, some cities will not have an existing Thai community and the Thai may began depending on the internet, self-isolating from even his/her spouse.

Culture shock and homesickness are a reality for those immigrating on either a fiancée or marriage visa, and it is best if the immigrating partner is adequately prepared for her/his new life.  Of course it is hard generalize and some Thais adapt easily to life in the US, especially if the couple is more mature and has shared interests.  Some other Thais, however, simply cannot adjust to life in the US, some having never lived away from their families, resulting in broken marriages and returns to Thailand.   An American attorney in Bangkok can help you with the legal side of getting your Thai fiancée to the US, but culture shock and even homesickness could undue all your plans, leaving you, or your sweetheart, lonely-hearted in America.

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