One’s assimilation skills are very closely related to their social skills. Whether it is when living with someone or living in a different country. It is as simple and as complicated as, “While in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Because sometimes assimilation is not just doing as the Romans do, but also changing your thinking which sometimes changes your identity- which I think is what scares most people. Assimilation is what makes America a melting pot and sometimes great. J
When living in a different country, assimilation sometimes threatens your identity and your uniqueness. As someone who has lived and worked in United States for last 7 years, I have seen some of both; those who completely refuse to blend in, intent on maintaining their nativity in the foreign land, and those who become native almost completely in less than the time it takes to speak the word native.
While it is quite admirable to blend in the culture of a new place, it is quite a loss to let go of your own rich culture. The tradition and values with which one grows up are unique to their place and when you let them go completely it sometimes feels like you are ashamed of your values. There are people I know who would whiten themselves if they could to let go of their Indian ‘brownness!’ And then there are some who refuse to let go of their past. They strictly adhere to their culture without bringing anything more to it; eating the same food, watching the same kind of movies and above all hanging out with people from your region. While most people say food and movies aren’t a big deal, it’s the very window which opens you up to new things in life. There’s no bigger cultural experimentation than experimenting with their food. But refusing to try new things is how cultures become stagnant.
The real smartness is in bringing your own flavor to the new culture that you are trying to fit with, which leads to cultural and personal evolution. When you bring some Indian-ness to your American culture is when you start appreciating both the cultures and thus can pick and choose your values. Kind of like hanging out at a bar with your American coworkers discussing Oscar Wilde and Devdas, and like adding bit of curry powder to your pasta! J