Author: Hope Knútsson, Reykjavík, Iceland
Hope Knútsson is a psychiatric occupational therapist, who grew up in the United States and moved to Iceland after marrying Einar Knútsson in the 1970s. She recently shared this article, which appeared in an earlier version, more than 20 years ago, in an Icelandic newspaper called Foreign Living. She updated the article for a social media group serving immigrants in Iceland and it caught our attention here at Lögberg-Heimskringla. Hope’s reflections speak directly to the challenges faced by immigrants, both in Iceland and here in North America, while reminding those of us who are descendants of immigrants that our own ancestors faced similar challenges upon their arrival in North America. We publish it here in the hope that it might be helpful to other immigrants, wherever they are, and with the wish that it might help the rest of us to be kinder, more understanding, and more helpful towards the immigrants who are our neighbours.
Culture shock is often experienced by immigrants in their struggle to cope with an unfamiliar environment. Some or even much of the behavior the person has acquired in his or her home culture proves useless in the new culture. . . .