I came to the United States when I was thirteen years old. It was October 5th, 2015. My parents, my brother, and I moved from Dhaka, Bangladesh to Silver Spring, Maryland. We left because there was so little opportunity for a better life, compared to back home. Of course, for South Asian parents it seemed, a good education and good job meant everything. Everything was competitive: being the smartest kid at school (even top 20 was hard), getting a decent job. My parents thought it was best to leave our hometown Dhaka, and so we did.
I guess I can talk about how hard it was adjusting to American culture, the lifestyle.
Life at home sucked in the beginning. My parents couldn’t really speak English, so they tried their best trying to find jobs that don't require knowing the language. For example, they worked at Wendy’s, Safeway, etc… I remember my mother worked at a thrift store once. I have a vivid memory of adjusting to American toilets. It was horrible. The toilets back at home were basically on the ground, while American toilets were elevated and I had to get used to sitting down. I did prefer the American style, it was definitely much easier, but dang, it was hard. I remember the easiest way for me to learn English was to watch shows. I watched dubbed anime, sitcoms, and fantasy TV shows… It was definitely more important for me to learn English than for my parents, being in the American school system. I also had more resources, and planned to go to an American university, so there was more incentive to as well.
Getting used to American schools was hard. I knew enough English because it was required in Dhaka’s education system, but I wasn’t fluent in it. My accent was strong, even until today, some of my friends jokingly poke fun at it. I remember going to school lunches and hating the smell. It was so different from what I was used to, it even made me nauseous. I remember really hating pizza. I couldn’t even look at it. I looked forward to going home, daal and mach vaja were very common Bengali foods, but I definitely would choose those over pizza. I would say I was better than average at math, but adjusting to the word questions, I remember, was hard. Math is universal overall, but when tests and worksheets asked questions in English, I struggled to understand what they were asking for. I do want to say that I did really well in American school, but back home I was almost close to dropping out. It is definitely a lot easier here. Making good friends was hard, I didn’t really know how to interact with Americans at first… I was really awkward, and sometimes people gave me weird looks. I made friends with anyone who bothered to talk to me. This led me forming some toxic relationships, but I did what I could to “fit in” I suppose.
I follow the Muslim faith and celebrating here versus back at home is completely different. It definitely feels a lot more lonely here.. Everyone at home was Muslim, while most people here follow Christian faith, or don’t believe in God at all. I also experienced more racism the older I got. I didn’t learn about racism until I moved here actually, because we all looked the same back home. I learned about Indian stereotypes, like how they’re supposed to be smarter. Although I’m Bengali, many people thought I was Indian and so the stereotypes followed me, too. The American experience is definitely something, I would say.