Sebastian Noelle

"I came to the US from Germany in 2000 to study jazz, an American art form. I am now a permanent resident. I found the whole visa process emotionally and economically taxing. Paying immigration lawyers, not knowing whether I could stay in the country or not. Long term planning was not possible. After obtaining the Green Card, New York felt more like home, although even that can still be taken away. 

Also, finding an identity between two countries, my home and my chosen home, is a challenge. Recognizing traits of my origin country in me, good and bad, is sometimes the source of frustration and embarrassment. For example when I feel like my actions confirm common stereotypes about Germans. At the same time realizing that the positive parts of my cultural heritage can add to the immigrant experience in the US is a great feeling. All this shapes our identities and is something we often deal with after the initial struggle of finding work, a decent living situation and a social circle. 

My advice is not to forget that you came here because you thought that you will have a happier life here than in your home country. For me this has been a sustaining source of strength, knowing that I can realize my potential in my professional field here better than at home helps me in the face of adversities and difficulties dealing with the system. 

Also, being open to seeing cultural differences as a chance to expand your own value system and at the same time bringing in the aspects from your home culture, that you feel strongly about. Be a part of the constant renewal of our social environment in an effort to make it more diverse and more human."

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