What’s good fambam?!! hope y’all good? I am doing well thanks for asking( lol see what I did there?) SO you find yourself thinking about moving to the USA? yay!! welcome, there are just some things you should know. Please hear me good(or should I say read me good) this is NOT to scare you or make you nervous or make you give up on your dreams of coming to the States. This post is just to be TRANSPARENT. To tell you a few truths, most people don’t share, so when you do come here, you are more than equipped for your new life.
1) GETTING A VISA IS NOT EVEN THE BEGINNING
I know most of my readers are from different parts of the world but in Nigeria where I am from, getting a visa is a BIG deal. I mean there are prayers and fasting and covenants done just to obtain an American visa. It is not an easy process by any means, it is emotionally exhausting. A lot of people get denied and a lot of hopes and dreams are crushed.
But please remember that when you get your visa, that’s the end of one life as you know it and the beginning of one that you have never lived before. Things are about to be different. You have to learn to adapt, be vigilant and PATIENT because things will not work themselves out in one day(or even one year).
2) AMERICA IS NOT ONLY WHAT YOU SEE IN MOVIES
You know everything is good in America, every one has a house and cars and a spouse, 2 kids, a dog and a white fence. yeah…….no. That is not the reality for most migrants (and even some American citizens). The truth that is not often shown is that there are homeless people on the streets, who once could afford their own home. There are college graduates looking for jobs, a lot of people go hungry and can’t afford to eat, crime is a real problem etc.
Why am I bringing this up? because most migrants including myself felt like there will be no problems or hardship in America. The level of problems and hardship is honestly based on perspective and what your life was like before moving to America. Reality check 101: Life gets hard in America too.
3) RACISM AFFECTS YOU
Before moving to America, I knew about racism. I knew it was bad but it never was a priority to me because I had never dealt with it. Then in college( University of Missouri) there were some racist incidents. I was upset about it but to be honest I was more concerned about my visa status, grades and other things that I didn’t even have the energy to focus on it. Then I got into a serious relationship with an American (who is just like the best man ever) and EVERYTHING changed. My whole perspective and what was now important became different. I am a dark-skinned female and unless I open my mouth to speak, to the regular Caucasian, he/she may not know that am African. So this affects me because I am tagged African-American based on looks.
The problem is not that I will be considered African-American, they are amazing people! The problem is that just because someone doesn’t like someone else and I happen to look like the person they don’t like, I might get shot!
So you have to know and understand what is going on in the country and how to keep yourself safe and to support the movement to end racism! that’s one thing I wish I did a little bit more in college, instead of standing aloof.
4) TIME AND MONEY
In America people are punctual and they don’t play with their money. Back home you give your family and friends discounts just because they are your “people”. Where I am from you can owe people money for up to 4 years and they understand for the most part.
PLEASE do not try this in America, unless you want to go to jail or something pretty close to that. If you are owing money, do yourself a favor and pay on time (it will affect your credit score,, will talk more about that later). No amount of begging is going to save you. They want their money and they want it NOW. My advise is before you get a loan or credit card or start something that requires money make sure you have enough the cover some (if not most) of it.
5) YOU MIGHT FEEL LONELY
Very few people will understand you, not because they don’t want to, but because their experiences are different. I find that I am very different from most immigrant Nigerians. Our situations are different, how we grew up is different. How we came here and what we want to get out of life is completely different. My first couple years in America I felt SO LONELY, not because I didn’t have friends. In fact it was because I had friends I felt lonely.
Let me explain, I had close friends back home who had never lived in America and I had close friends in America who had never lived back home. My American friends did not understand certain struggles I was going through as an immigrant and neither could my Nigerian friends, so really I had no-one to talk to about certain important things. I wasn’t alone but I was extremely lonely.
6) YOU HAVE TO LEARN EVERYTHING ALL OVER
Moving to America (or anywhere) will make you learn. One tip to be successful is be a good learner. You have to learn the culture, learn what to say and what not to say, how certain things are said and pronounced, learn how to think the way they do, how to eat in that society and most importantly how to live (survive) in that society. It seems very simple but it can make a HUGE difference.
A lot of things you did in your home country will not fly here. Even if you live in a state or city in America dominantly covered by people from your home country, you have to admit and respect that the dominant culture is the American culture and if you are going to do business with them, be friends with them or even interact with them, then you have to learn them. Can I just add that learning the American culture is more than faking an American accent and trying so hard to fit in 🙂
7) YOUR CULTURE/RELIGION IS CUTE BUT DO NOT EXPECT ANYTHING SPECIAL.
DISCLAIMER: The paragraph below is from my personal experience
Most Americans I have met were eager to know my culture or religion but that did not necessarily mean they wanted to get to know me as a person. Knowing the difference is important because it can prevent you from getting your feelings hurt. In most cases, they do not mean to hurt your feelings. The problem is this, we (most migrants) view ourselves and our culture as one, so when some asks about your culture you think they want to get to know more about you. Well, in my experience that not always the case. You assumed because they asked about your culture, you all are friends but to them you are not a friend but a person they know.
Another shocker is the religious holidays, your country may not celebrate the same holidays as America so you may not get certain days off work/school.
My Muslim friends struggle with prayer time during work hours. Most companies have a strict no religious activity rule, so you may not get to pray during work time. I, as a Christian, sometimes struggle with not having the 26th of December off work and the whole entire week! in my home country , we have that whole week off.
Just some things to keep in mind, hope this was helpful? feel free to share your own experiences or tips! I’ll love to read them, or if I missed out anything do tell me!!