Fresh off the boat, or for us, fresh off the plane, you will stand out.
You can wear the trendiest clothes, and still stand out. There is something about us Africans, mostly West Africans that just stands out. Usually we wear clothes that scream 'West African here'. Also there is something in our eyes that almost all West African immigrants have. It is hard to explain, but we can recognize our own just by looking at the eye. We just have the look.
My first contact with Americans was with Black America, on the basketball court.
Back in Togo, I took English classes, and thought I was good enough to at least have a decent conversation. So I went to the court next to our apartment, and did not understand a word. I mean, not a word. My French-British English accent ended up being useless. It wasn't till later that I understood that they were speaking slangs, and once you spend enough time with them, you pick it up too.
One other thing that shocked me was how tall everybody was.
We have tall people in Togo, and I'm short, so being on court where there was nobody less than 6 feet, quickly helped me make up my mind. Basketball was not for me.
Later on, I saw some Latinos playing soccer, and that's how I really started to enjoy America. I can hold my own on a soccer field, and when it comes to soccer, Latinos recognize talent and skill, and they accepted your worth. Playing with them most days after school and work, became a great way for me get used to our new life. I never really spent time with White America till I started High school.
White America was more like the picture of America that was painted to the rest of the world.
My French-British English accent helped this time, and most people thought our accent was 'cute'. It also help that education is so much more tougher in Togo, and in comparison, school in the US is like a walk in the park.
At the end, in Togo, we didn't realize how divided and secluded America really is. We didn't have a clue about White America, Black America, Latinos, Europeans, and Asian America. We only knew about America, where everybody gets along, and life is great. You quickly learn otherwise, once you come here, and you quickly learn where you stand in society. However, it is not all bad.
Things might be different now, with the Technology boom, and social media being available world wide. One thing for sure, the people giving you advices will determine your fate in El Dorado. If you are lucky, and are staying with good people, they will help you assimilate properly, and do the right things to start on a good path.
You have to spend time outside of the African community or you will end up doing what everybody else is doing.
It's not necessarily bad, but you cannot succeed in El Dorado if you don't learn from the other communities.