Shiyan Zhang moved to Boise, Idaho, from Tieling, China, in the early 2000s. She came with her five-year old son and reunited with her husband who had left China two years earlier.
She came to the U.S. in search of more freedom and better opportunities for her and her family. Everything was foreign and strange and new. But the only emotion she felt? Excitement.
I’ve arrived in 2001, December 28th. My husband came here first. Then two years later, my son and I came here. We were so excited that we couldn’t sleep! Everything was new to us. We saw the people who picked up our baggage from our plane to another place. So we forgot kind of to get off our plane (laughs).
When we came to America, we tried to find the bathroom. Just so clean! And the nicest smell. You can see that they are—Usually in China, in the public area, at that time, you cannot sit. You just squat. It is so different from China.
When I first came to America, I can remember the people so nice. People, they meet each other just walking in the road. They say, “Hello.” And the—another thing I can remember is that when people want to cross the street, the car always stop by there. They let people go first. In China, it is different. When I was there at that time, the people always let car go first. Then people go. But in America, it’s different and so impressing for me. I really like here. I like America, but I still miss China because my family is over there, like my parents, siblings, my friends…They are all in China, so I miss China too.