I had only known of America as somewhat of a distant fantasy. My main impression of America was big bustling cities such as New York or Los Angeles, so before I left I was expecting to see skyscrapers and large buildings around me. Lockdown had basically just ended and this was my first time in nearly two years of having outside contact of India. It was also my first time flying alone without my family next to me. Needless to say, I was extremely nervous.
When I left I was feeling a lot of anxiety because I had essentially 18 hours to sit on a plane and wait to go to a new country. Navigating an airport by myself when I arrived at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Airport, I ended up meeting another student who was going to America to study on the same connecting flights as me and suddenly the anxiety that welled up inside me slowly disappeared as I waited for my first flight of three to arrive in America.
My flights took me from Mumbai to London and then to Chicago and finally Dulles airport. After each flight, I tried to look around the airport for a quick meal to eat, but I quickly realized at all airports being a vegetarian was not nearly as common as in Mumbai. It was something I had to get used to once I got to America, so I figured better sooner than later. I ended up eating a salad in London, and a sandwich in Chicago. This was also my first time navigating an international airport by myself and my English at the time was not nearly as good as it is today. Trying to listen to the people working at the airports speaking to me in English was a new and most definitely difficult experience, one that I would also have to get used to during my stay.
After a long 18 hours of sitting down and waiting for flights I finally landed in Dulles international airport. When I landed I immediately looked around at the large crowd of people trying to shuffle out of the airport, but somehow the crowd looked small compared to Mumbai. After getting my bags and exiting the airport, the first sensation was the August heat and the clean air that entered my lungs, and as I ran to my sister's car I took in the large blue sky of America. I had to take my blue Adidas jacket off because the heat of August was rather pleasant compared to the summer heat of Mumbai. As she drove me from the Dulles Airport to our hotel, my impression of America that I once had was suddenly shifting to reality. As our car sped past rural and suburban houses I realized how different my impression had been of America. All the houses were so far apart, and they were incredibly tiny compared to what I thought they were going to be. As the drive continued, just by being in the car with my sister I could feel my anxiety that I had about America slowly dissipate and be replaced with exhaustion. I got to my hotel and immediately passed out to prepare myself for my long story that would unfold in America.