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Sharing My Experience: Permanently Moving to a Different Country

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to move to a different country? I think many of us have imagined what would happen if we completely changed our lives by taking this step. Think of the things that you usually do every single day. Would the same be possible if you lived in a different country? Think of the type of school you go to, the type of vehicle you drive, the type of food you eat, and the type of people you see. Most importantly, think of the level of privilege you have. I’ll tell you about my experience if you are thinking about making this decision. 

Let me begin by painting you a picture. You’ll be seeing everything from the point of view of a six-year-old Indian girl. Palm trees, monkeys sitting calmly on a roof, beautiful cows wagging their tails, street vendors, boiling heat, blue skies, and different shades of brown skin glistening on every person. This is what I saw every day while riding to school in a rickshaw. I arrived at school in my proper school uniform and was taken to my classroom. I groaned and rolled my eyes while my teacher began her lesson for the day. I was in the “English medium” section of my school because my dad always knew he would be taking our family to the land of opportunities, so I was always spoken to in English. 

I would come home back from school happier than ever since the school day was over. I would be excited to tell my parents and my sister and my grandparents about my school day and force them to watch my favorite cartoons like Pokemon, in which the characters would speak in Hindi. After my family would get sick of me watching cartoons, we would sit at the dining table and eat traditional Gujarati food: dal, subzi, roti, and rice. At night, we would watch a Bollywood movie: usually, Koi Mil Gaya, since it was me and my sister’s favorite at the time. Later, my parents would put me and my sister to sleep while reading us a classic Indian bedtime story, and that would be the usual day in India for me, but then came an unusual day.

Our Visa had gotten approved, my mom started explaining to us the details and it went in one ear and out the other. The one word that did stick in my head was the word “America.” I didn’t know what it was exactly, but I had high hopes after my mom described it to me by emphasizing how many good jobs it has there. Although I didn’t understand the concept of a job, the energy of my mom’s description excited my nerves. She told me and my sister more about how dad had to go to America before us so he can start his new job and buy a home for us. The realization that my dad had to leave did not sink in until after his plane left. It was hard without him for eight months and my mom had to take a lot of responsibility for that time, but she persevered and got some satisfaction from late-night paid worldwide phone calls.

After months of waiting, the day to move to the States finally came. I hugged my teddy bear goodbye after hours of crying from having to leave it behind. We all cried more from having to leave our extended family. After that, we were finally on the plane. Little did my mom know that both of her daughters were going to have intense motion sickness for 16 hours. She took it like a champ and suddenly it was over. My uncle picked us up and when we got to his house, my aunt greeted the three of us and guided us to the room that her infant was sleeping in. I didn’t know then, but that was the moment that I met one of my best friends. 

Some time passed by and my family and I finally reconnected with my dad. We continued living with my aunt in her attic and every day would be filled with the satisfaction of trying new things like different cereals, sauces, cheeses, etc. Even though my dad was still adjusting to the immigrant life and trying to figure out the financial part of living in a different country, I would receive some new Barbie dolls every once in a while.

Eventually, I was told that I had to go to a Catholic school in the meantime before I could go to a public elementary school when we were in the process of finding an apartment. I saw people of light skin shades and blonde hair and blue eyes. I have never seen people who looked like this before. In the morning, I was greeted by my homeroom teacher who looked just like my classmates. She seemed so shocked when I was sitting down for what she called the Pledge of Allegiance. I didn’t know what to say to her except “I’m sorry. We don’t do that in my country.” The next day she gave me a poster board of the Pledge of Allegiance and told me to memorize it. I did as I was told. 

Eventually, my parents found an apartment, and my world was shaken again when my mom told me I had to move to a new school- for the second time. On the last day of Catholic school, I hugged the two friends I had made there and cried hysterically when I got home. Every time I felt that I was having some stability, something would come to a crashing halt. How was I supposed to adjust when nothing stayed the same?

The first day of public school finally came. My dad explained to my teacher that I have moved from India. She greeted me with a welcoming smile and my fears slowly started diminishing each day. Over time, I learned to speak fluent English and I met the people I call today my best friends. I cannot imagine how different my life would be if I had never moved in the first place. If you are considering moving, please know how much you and your life is going to change. It will change in both positive and negative ways. It will be highly difficult at first to get adjusted, but when you do, it is worth it. If you are thinking about moving to a different country, give it a shot. You can do it. Create the life you have always wanted. The power is in your hands.

Juhi Mehta

Montclair '22

Juhi Mehta is a junior majoring in Computer Science and has many interests in mathematics, psychology, social justice and writing. In her free time, she enjoys painting, gardening and reading. Her future career goals are related to AI development. Eventually, she would also love to create her own non-profit humanitarian organization. From being born in India and migrating to the States, she tries to incorporate her culture and spirituality into her daily routine. Juhi has a strong passion for intersectional feminism. When she's not busy with school, you can catch her spending time with her family and friends.
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