Moving to the Big City

Ardit Haxhaj, 24 - Albania

This is Ardit Haxhaj, a student attending University of Missouri Saint Louis  from a small town in Albania called Mallakaster. Moving to United States at the age of 8 with his parents and his older brother was a culture shock after living In New York for a short period of time before they resided in Saint Louis. 

"The first reaction I had when I first came here was how big everything was and how difficult it was to settle in and to learn the new language."

At that age it was extremely difficult for him to meet new friends and having somebody to play with or talk to and hang out but luckily he had his brother to make the transition a little bit easier even though it was hard for him as well. As a result of that made going to school difficult and making new friends, getting adjusted because he had to start from scratch and rebuild. 

Living in the United States for the past 16 years has changed Ardit quite a bit; the way he communicates, losing his accent has been a big part of that but also his taste in music, food, the way he dresses and lifestyle as a whole has fused into the American culture. I asked him if he felt more Albanian or American and his answer was interesting:

"I want to say that a little bit of both. I've visited Albania about three or four times, but I've definitely lived in the United States more than half my life, so I would definitely say that I will become a little bit more American, but I still have that Albanian - I'm still going to have that Albanian in me no matter what. "

Being Albanian means coming from a very small country and of course a small village for Ardit but his family's pride and respect is huge and no matter what, he has to keep the traditions, norms, and culture in your life but he also wants to live life here in the States, therefore; he as developed a Third Culture. Being so far from home also made Ardit and his brother take responsibility to help his parents adjust as well. 

"Another difficulty that I still - me and my parents still go through is the language barrier that my parents have, so I kind of help them on an everyday basis to translate with insurance - basically anything that you could think of that they need translating, me and my brother are always there... bills, going places, making appointments."

Facing all these challenges has not been the easiest thing do but he has remained positive and continues to do so by making new friends and enjoying the new life he and his family have built here in  United States.