Finding things different in the UK - from an immigrant of 25 years ago

Started by grahame, Apr 29, 2022, 05:36 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


In answer to a question on whether Ukrainian guests should intergrate - a response from the Facebook page (public but well buried) from Lisa who came from the USA some 25 years ago.

QuoteI completely agree with your feeling that the Ukrainian families should integrate into the community once they are settled. I immigrated to the UK from the US, and when I arrived back in 1998 I was confident I could just slip in unnoticed and melt into the woodwork because I spoke the same language. But that didn't happen. Light switches were all backwards to my habit and I kept turning off lights when I wanted them on. Don't get me going about how children use rubbers to erase pencil mistakes. It. Was. Different. And I felt different. And every time I opened my mouth everyone knew I was different. It was only when I came across an online group of Americans who'd settled in the UK that I felt I wasn't going nuts. And gradually, over time, I learned to say "lifts" and "bonnets" and eat with both hands, fork in my left and knife in my right. It all feels natural now. All except for the light switch thing. I still turn off lights when I want them on.

But I wasn't fleeing from a war-torn country into a private home of total strangers. Ukrainians who have left everything behind need to be with people who know their own experience right now. They need to connect with those who understand. There is trauma too difficult to comprehend by us who have not experienced it.

Over time they will blend in. But there's one huge difference in this logic. They want to go back home and rebuild. They have hope their stay in the UK is a temporary safe haven. Some may not even want to take the time to learn the language because this hope is so strong inside them that they fear that if they try they are giving into the idea the war will be lost.

Please do not force integration. It will happen to those open to it.

As for other organisations to have meet-ups, it's up to them to provide.
Melksham Town Councillor (South Ward) - special interests including travel and transportation, economy and climate. Retired IT trainer, helping with the Ukraine UK forum