15 Things Only First Generation Americans Can Truly Understand
The first time I was old enough to realize I was visiting the Philippines, I was six years old. Before I left for the trip with my family, I was genuinely excited to bond with my cousins and family members. But once I arrived, I didn't exactly receive the warmest of welcomes, and shame and confusion quickly took over. I was the only one in my family born in America, so on my cousins' stomping grounds, I was the foreigner. A foreigner who could neither speak nor understand their language, to be exact.
I arrived in a country still new and unfamiliar, and was made fun of by kids my age who said I spoke funny. Needless to say, I didn't have a good time. I looked like them, and we shared the same last names — but I knew I wasn't the same. I didn't speak Tagalog because I grew up in the United States and hello, in America we speak English. At least that's what I had told my mother when she'd previously tried to pass down her language to me.
When we returned to the States from our trip, I decided I wanted to take language lessons ASAP. I wanted to be understood, and I wanted to feel like a part of my distant family. It wasn't just my mother and father's culture — it was mine, too.
For first generation children like me, knowing where you fit is complicated. Sometimes you feel like any other American, and sometimes you feel like you don't quite blend. There were just some things you couldn't explain to your friends at school (filial piety, anyone?) But in the end, I wouldn't trade my experience for anything: I like knowing that I'll always have those traditions, values, and habits (good or bad) that my parents helped to instill.
If you're a first generation kid, you know what I'm talking about. Here are 15 other things only we could truly understand.
Coming Home With A Grade Lower Than an "A" Was Grounds For Disownment
Your Relatives Always Fought For the Restaurant Bill When It Came Time To Pay, No Matter How Expensive It Was
You've Had To Deal With People Calling You "Exotic" While Guessing Your Ethnicity
Every Ailment Has A Weird, Yet Effective Home Remedy
Everyone Is an Aunt or Uncle, Sister or Brother, But You're Not Exactly Sure How You're Actually Related
There's Always a Good Chance Your Boss or Teacher Will Butcher Your Name
Your Weekend Plans Often Consisted of Tutoring Or Classes In Your Parents' Native Language
You're no stranger to "weird" foods
I see your omelette and raise you century eggs.
Your grandma's recipes from the homeland are better than any "authentic" hipster restaurant
And God Forbid You Ever Refuse Food From A Relative
There are still some words that you've been pronouncing wrong your whole life
Doctor or Engineer: Those Are Your Career Choices
Relatives Are Constantly Berating You With Boyfriend/Girlfriend Questions At Family Parties
You've Been Guilt-Tripped More Than Once to Stay With Your Parents Until You're Married — Even After You're Married
Most of all, you're Proud of Your Heritage And Want to Share it With the World
Images: HBO Home Entertainment