Gujarat & Charlotte
Years to permanent residency
Arrived in the US
What was your journey like to the United States?
When I left for the U.S., this was the first time I left my hometown of Baroda, Gujarat. After 24 hours on a plane flying 8,000 miles, I was in line at the port of entry in New Jersey. The guy in front of me was taken into a room. I was next. I started going through all of the dates and facts: when we met and when we were married. There were 300 pages of call logs in my hand.
I remember feeling alone. Who could I trust? I heard stories of how immigrants were taken advantage of. I flashed back to selling my motorcycle. That was all the money in my bank account. I wasn’t sure if I would find a job. My medical exam was sealed in an envelope. I didn’t know the results. I thought: Would I be cleared? Who would I call if it didn’t work out? Feelings of fear, love, excitement, loneliness, confusion, and clarity arose at the same time.
What brought you to the United States?
The love of my life. I met my wife while I was working for a U.S. company in Baroda. After several visits and exchanges, I decided to put my faith in her and trust she wanted what was best for us. I had never thought of leaving my “pond”, but I also couldn’t imagine being without her. I finally made the decision to marry her and move to the U.S.
What did you leave behind? What did you gain?
I left behind: festivals, our culture, my best friends, my support system of 28 years, and my parents.
I gained: The love of my life, emotional strength, independence, and financial stability.
What message would you share with a newly arriving immigrant?
Stay strong! Be open to new ideas and cultural nuances. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you are having a rough day or you are homesick, find someone to talk to. In my experience, the longer you bottle up feelings of confusion or homesickness the worse it becomes. Believe in people.