Let me start from the beginning. I am of Spanish descent but raised in New York State. In my home three languages were spoken: Gallego (a dialect of Portuguese spoken in northwestern Spain), Spanish, and English. My parents stressed language and culture a lot as we were growing up, so it wasn't a big surprise when I ended up going into linguistics, the scientific study of the structure and use of language.
What was more of a surprise was that I ended up working in Puerto Rican communities in Philadelphia and New York City and eventually married a Puerto Rican. Puerto Rican Spanish is quite different from the Castilian Spanish I was accustomed to, but with time I grew used to it and even changed my own way of speaking Spanish to be more like Caribbean Spanish.
Twenty-five years ago we decided to move to Puerto Rico (originally only for 3 years, but then it was hard to disconnect). My husband and I raised our son bilingually and biculturally, and he is comfortable speaking both English and Spanish. I expected him to benefit a lot from our living in Puerto Rico and visiting New York regularly. What I didn't expect was how divided I was going to feel splitting my time between the two places.
In the entries that follow, I'm going to talk about some of the cultural conflicts I've run into over the years and what it's like feeling not quite at home in both my home town and my adopted homeland.
For the past 25 years, I have been living 9 months of the year in Puerto Rico and 3 months of the year in my home town in New York State. This experience has been very enriching but has also caused me a sense of not truly belonging in either place. I thought I'd share some of the conflicting feelings I've had in the hopes that other "expatriates" and "bicultural" individuals could respond.