I remember having a sad but excited feeling when leaving Delhi, India. My husband had been to the States before and had told us good things, not to mention the amount of buzz the rest of the family who hadn’t even set foot on their soil had. It was difficult leaving but I knew I found solace in knowing my husband and daughter would be with me. I felt this was an opportunity, not just for me, but for my child.
When we first landed in Philadelphia in 2008, it was like I imagined. Clean streets, good weather, and fresh air. Right away however we had some trouble getting through security. There were some issues with paperwork and we met some unwelcoming people during that but we got through and got to our new place. It was a small one bedroom apartment in a small town in Pennsylvania. There were a lot of trees and windy roads on the way there.
The first few days were lonely. My husband had to go to work while I stayed home and took care of our child and the house. I went grocery shopping and it was interesting to see how big the grocery stores were. I was used to small markets and buying stuff on the street so this was definitely a culture shock. I liked how all of it was organized as well and was excited to start cooking. I was also glad to see there were Indian grocery stores so I could keep cooking home food. While I enjoyed the chicken burgers at McDonalds, cooking traditional Indian food really kept me connected to home. We had a gas stove which let me make rotis too.
Other than cooking, there was not much to do. I did not know anyone so I grew bored and tired as well. One day I bumped into one of our neighbors and she was very kind. Her name was Angela. She was around my age and white, it was the first time I had made a friend outside my race. She was understanding of our situation and welcomed our entire family.
Angela also had a daughter around the age of mine, it worked out well. While we were a Hindu family, we celebrated Christmas for fun and we spent that celebration with us. Exchanging presents and eating cookies. It also snowed that week and that was definitely the highlight of being in America.
As I got more situated I gained more friends and blended in more to the community. I learned to speak more fluently in American English rather than the British English we learned back in India. My family also was able to visit one of my husband’s college friends who also moved to the United States and it was very useful being able to share that experience with them.
Now I have been living here for 20 years. It has been a journey the entire way and I am lucky to be able to visit family back home every now and then. I also was able to get some certifications here and now have a job as well. I am grateful to have been here and I am glad my daughters get to experience comfort growing up. I do eventually want to move back to India after my last daughter graduates high school but for now I am content being in the United States.
* The contributor of this story has asked that their name be withheld.