Melissa immigrated to the United States from Canada.
What I Learned Immigrating to the US
person found Melissa's experience helpful.
Coming to the United States from Canada seems easy enough, and in some ways it is. It’s true that I was never in mortal danger, the way many are when they’re trying to safely reach US soil. But it’s also true that growing up in Canada gives you a false sense of security. Clustered around the television when race riots and gun violence broke out, my family would raise our eyebrows and murmur about how dangerous it was to live in the US. Coming to the US, I felt like Rambo entering the jungle.
At first, the process of immigrating is a novel thing. You can’t work legally, and the family member or loved one sponsoring your immigration request has promised to support you while the government processes your papers. Staying home and doing nothing is fun at first. After the initial high wears off though, guilt and boredom start to sink in. While I didn't feel too guilty because I came with my parents, I can only imagine how uneven this feels to those being sponsored by a husband or wife.
There is an isolation and loneliness that arises from being stuck in this limbo. Being unable to work, which was always what I used as a cornerstone for social activity and meeting new people, made it hard for me to meet other people in my age group. Support groups and meet-ups designed for immigrants weren't necessarily for me. I could feel the other people, some of who had scrimped and saved for years to leave an unstable, violent developing country, looking at me and listening to my near perfect English and resenting deeply that I took a visa from a deeply deserving cousin still waiting in their homeland.
A sense of humor is a must-have throughout the process. How else would I have gotten through the many times that I was called to an immigration office for an appointment only to find that a hundred other people were given the same appointment time?
After the first year or so, I learned that I had to bring every document, regardless of whether or not they had asked for it, because one missing document could mean waiting months for another appointment.
I would always face a stern-faced individual asking the most ridiculous questions. Had I ever helped someone come to the country illegally? Was I here to commit terroristic acts? While I understand that they have to ask, and they have to take your reaction and answer seriously, there was a part of me that had to wonder if anyone ever said yes to those questions.
If I could go back and do it over again, I would try to break through the isolation that so many new immigrants to this country feel. Leaving your friends and family behind to start over again is a difficult thing no matter whether you are moving a few hours away or to another country. Branching out a little more and taking the risk of trying new things would have definitely helped me adjust.