The Life Experience That Defined My Maturity and My Blend of Cultures

Growing up is one of the most essential parts of our lives. It is something that happens whether we realize it or not, whether we notice it or not, whether we choose to accept it or not. However, growing up is not only physical, it also includes the mental part of our development maturity. Although aging is a biological process that happens to all of us at the same rate, maturing is very individual and depends on a particular persona. Our level of maturity shapes our understanding of the world and separates us from one another.

Personally, my maturity came gradually. Every one of my major life experiences taught me some kind of a lesson, a moral, or an idea that I am able to bounce off from and incorporate in my new decisions and actions.

However, there is one major aspect of my life that defines my maturity and distinguishes it from others- my unique blend of cultures. I was born in Grodno, Belarus.

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Growing up in a wonderful family I received all the necessities a child needs for a fulfilling life-food, sleep, friends, attention, nurture, loving family, discipline, and ice cream. When I was five years old, my mom woke me up in the middle of the night, put a new pair of white sneakers on my feet (which then gave me blisters that I still remember thirteen years later) and told me that we were leaving.

Sure I was confused, but wherever we were going, both of my parents and my brother were coming too, so it didn't really matter because I felt safe.

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We went outside, placed our huge suitcases in the trunk of a big white van, and the next thing I knew we were on our way somewhere. As it later turns out, that “somewhere” was the United States of America, the land of opportunities- my new home. “This is your new President” my dad said, pointing at the small TV which had George Bush speaking to his fellow Americans. Although I never ended up demonstrating a particular interest in politics, this memory will forever linger in my mind. My assimilation went great. I went to kindergarten, made a bunch of new friends, started loving pizza, learned how to write my name in English, familiarized myself with the alphabet, started singing American songs, and even broke some school rules here and there. However, all that came to an end when my parents decided to send me back to elementary school in Belarus.

After completing four grades in Belarus, I came back to the US to continue my education, but those four years drastically affected me. I already developed fundamental ideas, disciplines, behaviors, critical thinking skills, and morals in my native country, rather than the US, which shaped my personality and understandings of the world. As the years went by, I learned the best from both worlds: Belarusian and American.

Traveling between both countries formed my personality, my views, and my beliefs. I am now more influenced by American ideas, although my fundamental ones are still from the Belarusian education. I also observed the differences between some outlooks of both societies on the same topic, and one that stood out in particular was diversity.

Living in the US, let alone New York, exposed me to the epicenter of an astounding blend of cultures, religions, languages, skin colors, traditions, and habits. At first it was unusual to me because in Belarus the only distinction between people would be whether you're Christian Catholic or Christian Orthodox, but I became used to it very quickly and completely fell in love with the never ending fusion. However, when I went back to Belarus, I noticed people looking weirdly and forming an unspoken tension with the colored minority, most of which are medical university exchange students. The weirdest part of it all was that I was one of those people, which caused me to seriously question myself.

I matured and developed most of my views in America, I have friends of different cultures, languages, and skin colors than me. I myself am an immigrant. I relate to both ends of the spectrum and understand both situations, so why did I react in such a manner? It never happened in America, so what is it? Patriotism? Nationalism? Not being used to seeing people of a different color for a while? Am I unconsciously following the crowd, even though I am aware of it? If something is not mundane, why does it automatically trigger hostility? Is that our natural defense mechanism? Is it based on your culture? Your personality? Your age? I questioned whether stereotypes change based on the country I was in, due to the influence and prejudices of the society.

This conflict reminded me of the Asch experiment, which demonstrated how an individual tends to follow a decision of the majority in order to fit in, even when he/she doesn't agree with it. People tend to follow the crowd, so is that what I was subconsciously doing, following the crowd? It is still a mystery to me, and the more I think about it the more puzzled I get. I know that I am true to my beliefs and values and I am certain that I wouldn't change them just to fit in, but then what was it? What triggered my unusual response? Does it have something to do with my fundamental ideas being formed by the Belarusian society? Am I not 100% assimilated into the American culture? I don't know, and that triggers my interest in the given topic even more. I am uncertain, and every time I try to look for an explanation I just seem to stumble upon more and more unanswered questions.


Updated: Dec 12, 2023
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The Life Experience That Defined My Maturity and My Blend of Cultures. (2022, Oct 25). Retrieved from

The Life Experience That Defined My Maturity and My Blend of Cultures essay
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