I am an immigrant. When I moved from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington, other than the fact that I had to pump my own gas – it’s illegal in Oregon – and pay sales tax – there is no sales tax in Oregon – it was pretty much the same culture. People were friendly, super laid back, bathing and shaving your legs was optional, a real “come-as-you-are-casual” atmosphere. 

Not so much moving to Long Island, New York. I am an immigrant. I feel it every day. I’m in a strange new land. People look different, talk different, and there are huge cultural differences.

At the grocery store – doesn’t matter how nice, how pricey, or how cheap – you bag your own damn groceries! You learn this quickly. Incidentally I’m getting really good at it. 

Personal space on the train – fuhgettaboutit! Bring a book, get over it, try not to make eye contact. 

Long Island is not the same as Queens and Brooklyn – even though they are ON Long Island – you never ever refer to those boroughs as such. Ever. 

New York state is in three distinct chunks. The city (which really refers to going to Manhattan but technically would be the five boroughs – see map), upstate – which refers to everything outside of NYC-  and Long Island. 

NYC map.001

How do you get from Long Island to New Jersey? You don’t. 

There are north shore people and south shore people. Choose wisely. 

New York recycling is suspect. You throw it all in a blue bin, Maggio brothers come by and toss it and crush it in a garbage truck. Hmmmm…..and on regular trash days you can literally throw out anything. Old stained mattress? Yup. Computer monitor from 1988? Yup. Broken and suspiciously soiled armchair? You bet. All for the same price as regular garbage. 

Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi episode – there’s some truth to that. You have to KNOW how to do business with certain entities. Like riding a ferry for instance. You have to have a reservation and you pay for it then – BUT, you also have to queue up on the boat to get a ticket to get off the boat. Or – NO FERRY FOR YOU!

I am learning to love Long Island. The more I venture out and try new things the more I start to look and sound and act like a New Yorker. I live in Port Jeff. I like to drink kawfee and tawlk. I love my niece like she was my dawter. Am I right? 

Immigrants have to do three things to survive and thrive in a new culture. 

  1. They have to respect and connect with the cultural norms.
  2. They often have to “let go” of some of their beliefs in order to adapt.
  3. They will bring some of their unique culture to the community that will enhance it. 

When someone new comes to your culture (credit union) from a foreign land (bank) how do we respond?