What was your first day in the US like?
“I married my husband at the end of February in 1993 and landed in JFK on March 13th 1993. I remember my in-laws being nervous that they would not let me into the country because many young people were illegally immigrating to the US at that time. Thankfully I had no trouble with immigration since I had visited many countries with my family and had those visas in my passport. After passing through immigrations and customs at the airport, I met my in-laws and husband and drove home to Queens. I landed in the evening, went home and ate dinner, and then went to bed.”
Were you scared to leave India?
“Coming to America was definitely scary and sad since I had just left Bombay, my home, and my family to settle in a new country for good. I wasn’t sure when I would go back to see everyone since it depended on when I got my green card. I was excited to see what the United States would be like since everyone in India looked up to it. I had high expectations. However, I wasn’t sure if it was the right place for me at the time. The streets were covered with graffiti, the drive home was filled with traffic, people were cursing at each other in the airport, and everything looked very unorganized. It was really difficult adjusting to life here. I lived with my in-laws and didn’t really know anyone other than the people my mother-in law introduced me to, which mainly consisted of her older friends and their daughter-in-laws.
Ten months after I moved to New York, my husband and I moved to Florida to start our own jewelry business. In Florida, I started working at the jewelry store with my husband every day, which was a great learning experience. We would go to work together every day and were also able to meet some newly married couples that we got along with well. Since we now had our own apartment and new friends, it actually felt that I was starting a new life. As time passed, I was able to find an Indian community and build a life in Florida, one that I really enjoyed.”
* The contributor of this story has asked that their name be withheld.