Looking around at my US high school made up of 80+% white students, it was hard to understand why my sociology textbook could claim that by the year 2050 whites would no longer be the majority race in America. Fast forward 10 years- and America is on that path to racial diversity even faster than projected!
But then who is the growing majority demographic in America?
A combination of minority races comprises the majority of the US population. The divide is shrinking, and the number of people who identify as a minority, including mixed, race is growing to be more than half of the US population.
What does this mean for your time in America as an international student?
- Don’t worry… they’ll love you
While there are some pockets of America that are more ethnically homogenous (same) than others– especially the farther you get from a city– most Americans are welcoming to people from around the world. Welcoming newcomers can look different across the US. You might experience “Southern hospitality” right away, or be in a city “hustle and bustle” that is slower to feel welcomed in. Be patient with them as they are patient with you; we are all learning how to be a global community.
You also may find that on college campuses or in a big city it’s easier to find restaurants, grocery stores, or campus organizations that have things and people from back home. With a little networking, you may even find a whole neighborhood of immigrants from your home country ready to welcome you (probably with delicious food!).
- Don’t be surprised by blended cultures
Diversity goes beyond skin color! While every home has its own unique customs, you will meet people who identify with two or more cultures or races. People who are first or second-generation Americans might identify as American and with the culture of their ancestors. For example, they might speak one language at home, and another while out with their friends. Just like you, they might get just as confused when they go to another friends’ house whose family does things completely differently. While you can’t assume people from blended cultures are “completely American” or “completely international,” they might be great insiders to ask questions about life in America.
- Don’t miss your chance to learn
You also have this huge opportunity to learn beyond the classroom. You’re going to eat food you’ve never tasted before, hear languages you’ve never heard before, and maybe even see people wear shoes in their house which you’ve only ever seen on TV before! Take a bold step and make friends from other cultural backgrounds, as well as from your own. Campus organizations like Bridges love celebrating different cultures where you can come to learn about other cultures and share about your own!
Share your experiences with us! Were you surprised by the diversity in America? What advice do you have for new international students?