Stepping out of the airport the first thing I noticed was how big everything was, it seemed supersized, cars, roads, houses, it really hits you when you’ve lived your whole life in a country where everything is so much smaller.
The fact that I had no bank account or social security number or car, I was completely dependent on other people to get around and that was scary.
I plonked in my friend’s apartment for a month, slept on the ground and lived out of bags, I had $400 in my pocket but that’s what had to be done. Then I got my first credit card for the first time in my life, I used to just stuff rupees in my pocket and go. It was a totally different world.
It really hits you how silent everything is. No phone calls or people ringing the doorbell or people coming home. It’s just you in this tiny, cramped apartment and it’s so quiet. In Mumbai, there’s just so much movement and noise that the silence really overwhelms you.
The other big thing was in my mind I was always converting things to rupees so everything seemed really expensive. One grocery trip in the US would be my entire month’s salary in India. I remember initially your mom and I would only shop at Kmart, once with $50 I went to Salvation Army to shop because even Kmart was too expensive. I used to earn, in todays dollars, $80 in India a month working in the hospital. Before I got my first paycheck, every time I spent a dollar I would convert it to rupees and it was like "oh my god", but then you start getting your paycheck in dollars and then things change.
You adapt, you have to adapt, I mean I didn’t come here to just give up. I felt that I was going ahead in life and for the first time I felt like I had control over my life because In India I was totally dependent on my parents financially, but out here you earn your own money, get your own apartment, which is totally unlike in India, here you can make the life you want. Starting over without being dependent on your parents all that matters is how much you work and how quickly you adapt.
I sure feel like I’ve worked my butt off to be here.
* The contributor of this story has asked that their name be withheld.