Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Intellectual Immigration

There's an interesting "first person" in the Chronicle today, about a Danish academic moving to the US. In it he talks about the European "intellectual immigrant" moving to the US, and holding on, holding onto the old traditions that have been forgotten at home (like changing from brown shoes to black shoes at 6 o'clock). That I can understand - the need to find little ways to set yourself apart for fear of being submerged in the culture, for fear of becoming an American.

On the other hand, he talks about the difficulties faced in adapting to American culture, the difficulties of trying to fit in. And I realise how Americanised I am. For one, Trinidad is terribly Americanised, far more than people realise or want to admit. American television,'s a lot more of a cultural homogeniser than you realise. I suppose I realised that during the International TA Orientation at MSU in 1994. I felt pretty silly having American slang explained to me.

Then there is my childhood in Canada. I try to minimise it, but it is a huge part of who I am. The connection to Canada is strong and deep. It isn't home, but it means something real to me.

And then there is my American PhD. There is no need for me to adapt to American academe - it's all I really know beyond the undergrad level. You don't think about things like that, but I am most certainly a product of an American scientific tradition.

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