The event of migration could be classified as a critical life crisis. Life crisis can be negative or positive events in a persons life, they are however significant and result in great change. This change often comes with stress and the issue of coping.
An immigrant generally will go through many changes; and like all individuals these can include, losses, frustration, anger, disillusionment, uncertainty, happiness, contentment, ambiguity and ambivalence. The adjustment issues of an immigrant could be likened to a layering effect, one compounding issue after the other. The phenomenon of the immigration experience is the possibility that stressful and adjustment issues are often occurring simultaneously. Not all migrants have negative adjustment issues, some can have both positive and negative experiences, whilst others may feel that migration was a struggle. To a certain degree it could be due to their varying situational factors. These factors can include; reasons for immigrating, economic stability, support, employment, language skills, education, perceived harmony or disillusionment, motivation to assimilate, perceived prejudice, lifestyle changes, reaction to loses and the degree to which goals are fulfilled. These are just to highlight a few of the internal and external struggles.
In the case study I found that the surveyed immigrant, Michael showed signs of both adjustment and maladjustment. He appeared to struggle in the initial phase of immigration process mainly because of the language barriers and his lack of social and community support. Where he did adjust was attributed to his determination to assimilate into the new culture. This included getting employment, learning English, establishing a family, and fulfilling his hopes and goals of the migration.
In Australia there has been major shifts and restructures of the immigration policy. In the distant past the commitment from white Australia has progressed to a policy based on the principle of egalitarianism. While the arguments of a multicultural society allow for a more cultural and socially enriching environment, the high level of immigration over the years has generated considerable concern. Recent concern has been related to the illegibility of migrant status to Australia. Debate has been over the social and economic criteria of the immigrant, this has been based on the potential migrantвЂ™s qualification, skills and experience in terms of вЂњ national need вЂњ (Ho, 1987). Michael, immigrated in 1961, he noted that at that time it was very easily to migrate to Australia, all that was required was health, political and criminal checks.
Michael, as discussed immigrated to Australia in 1961 at the age of 20, his immigration was a result of choice. He chose to come to Australia primarily for more opportunities, better economic conditions and creating a better quality of life. Better opportunities for Michael constituted re-building a life for himself, securing a good job, buying a house, establishing a family with an Australian women, having children and providing a better life for them and a better education. He came to Australia alone, he was not married at the point of migration, but once settled (2 years later) married and Australian woman and they had one son. MichaelвЂ™s passage to Australia appeared seemingly stress free, he spent 32 days in a boat and described the conditions as quite good. Upon arrival to Australia, the realisation of the move and all of the uncertainty of a new country was felt straight away, he mentioned that he had вЂњnowhere to sleep for the nightвЂќ. Within four days he had his first job in a factory, that was staffed predominately with Australian workers. His initial goal was to pick up the English language, and he felt that the only way he could do this was to work with the Australian people.
There are many reasons around the choice, or lack of choice to immigrate. Perhaps the individual was part of a family and the parents decided to immigrate, or that the individual decided to immigrate on their own accord, or that family was forced from their country due to circumstance, such as war. Forced migration is more likely to result in more transitional conflict than a move by choice. The forced migrant has to deal with all the same issues and adjustment of migration, yet often has to deal with the guilt and frustration of leaving relatives and friends behind. Often the reasons for leaving may be traumatic, such as war, and the fear and terror is ever present with them (Landau- Stanton, 1985 and Barankin, Konstantareas, Bosset, 1989).) In the case of Michael, although he chose to immigrate on his own accord he did experience stress as a result of his decision to immigrate.
Psychodynamically, immigration is viewed as a series of losses; loss of homeland, loss of friends, loss of status and loss of parts of oneвЂ™s own identity. Depression as a reaction to these losses is common (Barankin et.al, 1989). Migration is a time when resources are at an all time low. The resources most directly related to immigration are intangible ones (self-esteem, prestige, autonomy). Michael noted in the interview that he felt very unsupported when he arrived here that вЂњno-body helped himвЂќ and that he had no family. I got the sense that he did not mix into the Greek community for support, as he noted that he wanted to work with Australian people and that he did not want to marry a Greek woman. I felt that he might have maintained closed isolated boundaries initially, and perhaps didnвЂ™t explore the options for support. Cornille & Brotherton (1993) noted that one of the significant predictors of successful coping with crises is the presence of a support system that is accessible to the family. Perhaps, if he did travel out with a family and he was going through conflict, he might have been more inclined to seek out support of the community. Further to this Nesdale & Mak (2000) found that significant factor of host country identification depends on the levels of acceptance accorded to immigrants by members of their dominant culture group. It suggests that this type of acceptance can help with the overall acculturation of the individual. These factors may have to a certain degree hindered his adjustment and is worth exploring.