My name is Thomas Allen.
INTERVIEWED BY Vignesh Prakash x 5

Cochin, Kerala, India

New York City, New York




What brought you to the United States?
I came to pursue my Masters In Law at Indiana University School of Law, in 2000. I believed that opportunity didn’t strike everyday and my goal was to establish myself and make a career for me.

What were your first impressions of the country?
Honestly speaking, I wasn’t overly ecstatic about coming into this country. The idea of me settling down here was wavering back and forth. Homesickness played a huge role as I missed my family and friends back home. Eventually I started admiring the country, enjoyed the beauty and appreciated the culture which was so very organized and systematic. I was amazed by the cleanliness, law and order and slowly began to love and embrace the lifestyle

How was it adjusting to life here?
I think any new immigrant who enters a new world that he/she has never seen before faces their own difficulties. I felt the cultural difference at the beginning and to start on your own in a new place all by yourself made it even more hard. Everything was new and different. I was traumatized by the fact that there was no one that I knew of here and I remember calling my parents saying I want to come back. I came here during the coldest periods and Indiana can get real cold. Traveling 45 minutes each day to college, I wasn’t well prepared for the harsh winters. I remember standing for the bus the first day, under-dressed, trying to escape the cold as soon as I could. All throughout such days and the entire transition phase, I had a good friend (a retired judge) who helped me sail through it. He was actually my roommate then and he helped me in many ways. The hardest obstacle was to find a job. My greatest concern was how do I impress law firms and businesses with my resume, so that my parents were not burdened with supporting me financially. It took me a while to get going which was a big disappointment for me, but luckily I got an offer from one of the largest law firms in the US.

What did you do on your first day? What did you eat? Where did you go?
Well, I do recall landing in JFK, New York City, and being taken by my relatives with whom I stayed for the first week. I used this time to slowly get exposed to the US culture, I went sightseeing with my family and had a lot of good Kerala food.

What was the best thing about coming here?
The best thing I felt about coming here was I worked myself with the given opportunity and used it effectively. I feel satisfied that I could establish myself as one of the well-known in the field of Law. I was able to meet some of the best people in my life and connect with people from different cultures.

What advice would you give someone arriving in the United States today as a new immigrant?
Be the best in what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter what career path you choose, just work hard and it will pay off. I think with dedication and hard work, there’s an opportunity for everyone in this country to be successful. Another important thing is when you’re in this country, it’s important to respect the laws of the land and understand that there are no shortcuts to success. We have to integrate ourselves with the culture provided in front of you, but not necessarily lose where we came from, the roots and culture. I feel that if every individual preserves their value and culture and holds onto their identity, the respect would be within all different types of people around the world. Anybody can achieve anything they want to in this country, but the distractions are always there so it’s important to focus on the goals ahead of you and don’t lose track of yourself.