“After my half-hour walk, I arrived in the town. As I walked along the main street, I wandered among the people, my eyes on the street, advancing without being noticed by many people passing by. There was nothing stranger than being in a foreign country.” — Albert Camus
Embarking on a new journey — it sounds exhilarating, doesn’t it? Starting life from scratch, turning a fresh page, completely anew… Perhaps, one of the motivations for those who migrate to Europe is precisely this excitement. However, alongside the beauties that a new life brings, there are challenges to be faced. These challenges may seem somewhat blurred under the veil of excitement, but once you’ve migrated to Europe, the harsh winds of reality can hit you like a cold gust. You made it this far, which means you’re strong — these winds can’t bring you down. Let’s examine this situation together, maybe you’ll find some valuable insights.
In this article, I want to talk about cultural disconnection, the formation of subcultures, and the psychological problems that can arise from these experiences.
The language Barrier
We mentioned the cold winds, right? You received plenty of language education, but now, you might encounter people who deliberately speak fast. Or you might struggle to understand workplace jargon and idioms. We called this the cold wind. However, this can be overcome. You probably know better than anyone how to do it. You’ve already conquered this, and maybe it took you a year to express what I just conveyed in one sentence. Forgive the imperfections in this text. Now, you may miss speaking your mother tongue. No one understands the joy of speaking in their mother tongue better than you do. Now, let’s look at other challenges you might face.
You’ve been away from your home country for years. You may have become an annual visitor to your homeland. What used to be a familiar place has turned into a foreign land. Not only have you changed, but your homeland has changed as well. People feel different, discuss different topics, and lead their lives in different ways. Did you change, or did the city change? Perhaps there’s no definitive answer to this question. In the end, change is change.
“So, where is my beloved home that I long for? What is this feeling? Where do I belong?”
You came to your country with the smell of your favorite food wafting through your nose, but did they welcome you with open arms? What are they saying to you? Why? Is there a reason? Did your clothing or thoughts change?
“Does shouting, ‘I belong here, my body is made from this land,’ solve the problem?”
There’s only one option. Belonging, the sense of belonging, is an important feeling and need in a person. Belonging is when a person feels connected to a social group. This connection provides psychological support to that person. Someone who doesn’t feel a sense of belonging to their own country and can’t feel a sense of belonging to the place they’ve gone to may form a subculture.
What Does Subculture Mean?
A subculture is when individuals with shared lifestyles, common values, and emotions come together within a society, standing outside the norms. Subcultures interact with the dominant culture. Most importantly, they fulfill people’s need for belonging.
So, Is It A Good Thing To Create A Subculture?
There’s no straightforward answer. If individuals within a subculture can smoothly interact with the broader culture, then there’s no problem. Otherwise, the cost of a subculture can be a lifetime of struggle. Living your life, for one thing, struggling until the end of your days is a heavy price to pay. It’s worth thinking about this.
Do you want to define yourself as European? It may not be necessary, but not knowing where you belong can create internal conflict. Which feelings are more inclined? You know the answer to this better than anyone. These feelings will guide you to the right answer because a definitive answer can mislead you. Perhaps, you also carry a different definition, a different sense of belonging. No one wants to be detached from their homeland; the place where we live may be different. These are my thoughts, but your feelings are more important.
The issue of boundaries may be relevant here.
In life, there are boundaries in everything. These boundaries can be biological, physical, or psychological. For instance, spill a drop of water on a table. You’ll see how it has boundaries. This is made possible through cohesion. Cohesion is the act of uniting to create a whole. The molecules within a water droplet come together to form a whole. Outside of this whole, there is a boundary. The boundary keeps this whole intact. You can investigate this boundary with a small toothpick.
What does this have to do with the topic?
People, coming together, forming a whole, and boundaries. When you think of these words, you can see how they relate to the topic. However, that’s not enough. One droplet has the ability to merge with another droplet. By bringing the boundaries closer, this merging occurs. Just bring the boundaries closer, and you’ll become a part of it, and it will become a part of you. This happens through communication, explaining, learning about the boundaries of lifestyles, understanding your own cultural foundations, and maintaining continuous dialogue with the other culture. Integration and adaptation will only occur through constant communication.
Expathy is an online psychological counseling platform established to provide psychological support to expats. Through this platform, you can consult with expert psychologists who have counseling licenses, are knowledgeable in expat psychology, and are dedicated to this field. Expathy is a mobile-only application. You can download the app from the App Store and schedule a free session with your therapist immediately.
With warm regards…