My name is Tanzila Azhar.
INTERVIEWED BY Alina Azhar x 4

Karachi, Pakistan

Ann Arbor, Michigan



Durham, North Carolina


Who met you when you arrived?
I was greeted by my older brother and mother.

What made you immigrate to the United States?
Family and marriage.

What was your first impression of the place you arrived to?
Clear sky, everything was shiny, like you could see as far as the eye could go and there wasn’t any smog or smoke.

What were some of the things that surprised you?
There was a sense of discipline in people that I wasn’t used to, and people didn’t honk for hours on end.

What did you do on your first day?
Met with my family as I hadn’t seen them in some time and unpacked, caught up with others.

What was your initial reaction upon arriving in the United States?
A sense of happiness at seeing my family and awe at being in a new place. A little confused as well because the airport was odd and the attendant didn’t understand what I needed.

How did you feel during your first few days in the United States?
Nervous definitely, at the newness and also because I was about to get married to someone I didn’t know that well. Joy, because you always are happy to be around family.

What were some of the biggest cultural differences and similarities you noticed between the United States and your home country during your first days in the U.S.?
There was obviously a difference in thinking and beliefs. I already had heard about Western clothing and customs so nothing was too shocking but it was definitely a change coming from a Muslim-majority country where most people spoke like me.

Did you face any challenges or barriers in your first days in the U.S.?
Not really, I did have issues with citizenship a few years later.

Did you have any support or resources available to you during your first days in the United States?
Yes, family was in the area.

Did you have any presumptions about American culture that were challenged during your first days in the United States?
I thought everyone was healthy and fit which definitely wasn’t true. Also I didn’t realise how greedy America is, everything is about money.

What advice would you give to other newly arrived immigrants in the United States?
Stay true to yourself and believe your roots, don’t assimilate unnecessarily or lose who you are and stay on your deen (faith).