I always feel that we're under pressure and short on time.: Becoming Minnesotan

Abdisalam Adam, displaying Somali objects and books, 2004.
  • Name - Abdisalam Adam
  • Age at interview - 38
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 06.24.2004
  • Somali boys, Minneapolis Convention Center, February 1, 2004.
    Eid al-Adha dinner at a Somali home, Minneapolis, February 1, 2004.

    Culture Clash, Somali, Time

    Essential Question

    Becoming Americans: What does it mean to be an American?

    Problems in America: What could have helped this person’s adjustment in the U.S.?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    In traditional Somali culture, women frequently do not work out of the home.  They raise children, cook meals, and manage the house.  There are usually extended family members around to help with different things, so there is always a feeling of community.  In the U.S. most people work outside the home, including women.  Each immediate family is more isolated and there is less time and more pressure to do things on their own.

    To learn more about Somali history and culture, visit our Somali Community page.

    • Chapter 1

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    Narrator: Abdisalam Adam (AA)

    AA:  The productivity and the rate of speed with which life goes on, that was quite overwhelming to me. I mean, there was so much pressure on everything even though we have so many things that make life easy for us. We have cars. We have the elevators, the telephone, the cell phone, so many things. Yet, I always feel that we’re under pressure and short on time. That was very much a change from the pace that I was used to, which was kind of slow and people spend more time together. People, for example, will eat lunch together, sometimes sleep in the afternoon and then wake up and go back to work in the evening or socialize with relatives. That immediate change of being productive and work and school started to overwhelm my life right away.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Verb:  To overpower emotionally.  (overwhlems, overwhelming, overwhelmed)


    Adjective:  Happening quickly with no delay.


    Noun:  1. Pressing; force.  2. Mental strain caused by one's own or others' expectations on one's own performance.


    Adjective:  Able to complete one or more tasks successfully.


    Noun:  The rate that goods or services are made by a group of workers.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 522