This is the story of my first day.*

Faisalabad, Pakistan

Chicago, Illinois



What do you remember from your first few days in the United States when you arrived? Can you share what it felt like and what your first impressions were?

I arrived at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, with a packed immigration line. I am pretty sure I had to wait four hours to get everything checked. I knew that day meant a lot to my Mom. After many years, she finally reunited with her brothers. Her kids came to pick us up with my Mamu (uncle). It was a hot summer day, so we drove to Mamu's house. They had the American dream, living in the suburbs with a white picket fence. I was impressed with the big house, celebrated, and played with my cousins in their backyard which had apple trees. But things quickly changed once I realized this wealth was not in store for us. My Mamu dropped us off at an apartment in Devon at night. It was dark, smelly, and very small. But that didn't bring my spirit down. We all went to sleep on mattresses but I woke up with a loud slap to my face. I started to cry loudly and Dad rushed into the room. He looked stressed and scared. I told him, "Someone just slapped me." I knew it was one of my sisters but they didn't come forward. It was my sister who slapped me. Now we laugh at it but her reasoning was that I stepped on her hair. I looked for Mom, then I found out my Mom had to be taken to the hospital because she had a kidney stone in her stomach. I started to cry more. So we called our cousin back home who we lived with my whole life and after talking to them, I felt better.

What did you do during your first week?

I just went to my cousins' house and went shopping, going around the loop.

What were some of the biggest cultural differences or cultural similarities you noticed?

Probably the way people dress. It was common for women to be out at night and I once went to the beach, oh boy was I shocked!

* The contributor of this story has asked that their name be withheld.