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Bicultural identity & personal growth

‘I do not consider myself as a woman of color but this is how people see me’. A statement that can bother many of us but we can not deny that many of us do not relate to this term. 

Amy is born in Hong Kong, lived a couple of years in Brazil before settling with her mom in 1996, in Manchester, until her mid-twenties. She loves Manchester but got bored and needed some change, discovering new places and countries.  Through personal growth and cultural identity, Amy shared her experiences and perspectives.

Amy’s first experience abroad, on her own, was in Barcelona, during an Erasmus-stay. For a lot of students, Erasmus is an unforgettable experience that opens up the horizon and increases significantly the personal growth, beyond every difficult. In the beginning, Amy had a difficult period in adjusting to Barcelona but then she enjoyed her experience. She enjoyed so much living abroad that she could not imagine going back to Manchester. After her stay in Barcelona, Amy seized different worked opportunities around the world, Berlin, Los Angeles and more recently Madrid. She is a freelance journalist and works for a Madrid-based magazine. 

Besides, she is also a Secondary school English teacher at the British Institute. As an English teacher with Chinese heritage, many people were so astounded to the point where her teacher competencies were questioned. There is an underlying assumption that English teachers should be white. For Amy, this assumption has more to do with bigotry and ignorance due to a different conception of race in Spain but also due to fears of migration, constantly stirred up by far-right politicians. 

Amy does not have any favorite city but Madrid is the one she feels the most comfortable.

busy street city center madrid ©AissaFoto
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City center in Madrid, Plaza de las Cortes – ©AissaFoto

‘I feel the best and strongest version of myself that I never was in my entire life‘. She feels pretty confident, happy and enjoys the work-life balance. Since living in Madrid, Amy learns more about herself and connects to who she really is. Living abroad can definitely change you, as you are out of your comfort zone and face new challenges. It gives her the opportunity to reinvent herself and being less likely labeled. 

People assume many things about her due to her Chinese heritage: she is a hard worker, submissive, good at math and can speak mandarin. ‘I play with the stereotypes, make fun of it myself but it gets very annoying sometimes‘, as some old men with Asian fetish or nerds obsessed with Japan, approach her. 

Many people who grew up in a multicultural environment can feel in between cultures and may reinvent the concept of cultural identity. Amy does not considers herself as Chinese. She does not feel attached to the Chinese culture, she never lived with any other members of her family except her mom that would give any cultural guidance. Whenever she goes to China and visits her family, Amy feels disconnected from her relatives and the culture. She sees herself first and foremost as British and doesn’t feel particularly attached and do not connect to the culture since she doesn’t embody a cliché or adopt any typical cultural aspects.

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In a globalized world, bicultural identity is more and more common

‘I felt very lonely, to not belong to anywhere but then I realised that having a unique identity that mixes different cultural influences, it is a beautiful thing to embrace the differences‘, she says. For now, Amy does not see herself returning to Great Britain, she prefers to explore new places, even if Brexit may affect her movement of freedom. She hopes for the best and will see what the future holds for her.