I came to the U.S. for a Master’s at the School of Public Health. But Ann Arbor was not my first city, Chicago was. I came way back in 2006, Aug 9th to be precise. I actually landed in New York, and then I had a connecting flight from New York to Chicago. I remember being nervous at the airport in New York. My flight was a direct flight from New Delhi to New York, and New York was my immigration check- in point. So I clearly remember I arrived with a lot of other Indians in the plane. New York (I think it was Newark Airport), was busy with morning rush. And I had to figure out, where am I going? I had never been in a busy airport like that. Where is the immigration? I knew I had to pick up my bags as well, since I was switching over from an international to a domestic connection. I remember at the immigration point, they took a photo, did the finger printing, which I think was a little nerve wrecking. I was having a hard time getting the proper finger printing done, since my palms were sweaty from nervousness. The officer asked me, why are you here? I’m like, I’m here for studies, and then where are you headed to? I’m like I’m going to Chicago right now, but I plan to study in Ann Arbor. And then he said, that’s a good university. I smiled a little. He might have said Go Blue at that time.
Chicago was my first stop, because my brother lives there. I was just pretty much blown away by just the size of the Chicago city itself. And that was my first time traveling outside India. So it was comforting to have family over in the U.S. with whom I could stay with for the initial few days. All I can remember is I slept. I slept a lot probably because of the jet lag. I remember coming in, my brother picking me up from the airport from where we drove back to his house. I remember being excited to see my newborn nephew who had just turned six months old. My sister in law, I remember, was at home taking care of the lil’ one and she had made me some good Indian food. And I had that, and then I just talked with them for a while and then I basically then just slept off. That was my first day in Chicago. I was just tired from the long flight, but at the same time I think I was excited that I am here and it’s going to be a big opportunity for me. A little scared too, because I didn’t know what Ann Arbor was going to be like. All I had heard when I was applying for U.S. schools was that Ann Arbor is a really nice town. My uncle had mentioned that. I think that holds true, because I’ve stuck around for a decade. It’s hard to get Ann Arbor out of you.