Redefining What it Means to be American

Kristina Azevedo
February 22, 2016

In America, many people are proud to be American citizens, but still have close ties to their heritage.  After all, America is made up of lots of different cultures coming together.  In America we tend define ourselves by our family heritage.  In America, when people ask “What are you?”, we don’t answer “American”.  We call ourselves Polish, Portuguese, Italian, Brazilian, Puerto Rican, Korean, Indian, Russian, etc.  But when we leave America, we are no longer defined by these titles.  Even though I am not Italian, there are students in my program here in Siena who are descendants of Italian immigrants, making them Italian by American heritage standards.  But here in Italy, they are not Italian, they are American.  So what is it that makes us different once we leave America? In my opinion it is our values, our upbringing, and our unique American culture.  We can be proud of our heritages.  It is good to honor your family no matter where they came from in the world.  But it is also important to remember that you were raised as an American.  Sure, America has many flaws, but every country and culture has issues.  They key is to appreciate the good aspects of different cultures and try to incorporate them to make a lifestyle for yourself that you can enjoy.  


So what does it really mean to be an American?  I could stay here in Italy my entire life and I would never be considered an Italian.  I will always be an American and I would never change that.  America is my homeland, where I was raised and given the foundation from which I build myself up.  I don’t try to hide the fact that I am American here because I am proud of where I came from.  Being on the outside has given me a different prospective.  I can now more clearly see the flaws in both my home culture and my host culture.  However, I try to incorporate the good aspects from both cultures into my life.  It isn’t easy. At times it is truly frustrating.  But pushing through this and being proud of who I am has made me a stronger, more confident person.  Leaving America has allowed me to reconnect with my own culture in some ways.  It has made me appreciate America more.  As much as I love Italy and Italian culture, I am still an American and that will never change.

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Kristina Azevedo

<p>I&#39;m a sophomore from George Washington University majoring in Communications and minoring in Italian and Journalism. &nbsp;I love traveling, art, and food. &nbsp;I am so excited to share my experiences with you, especially my quest for the best bread in Italy.</p>

2016 Spring
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