What are the costs of me having to possibly uproot everything I hold near to me at the end of my college career and have to start all over?
America is my home. It has been for as long as I can remember. I’ve been raised with American values and ideals such as the importance of freedom, hard work and equality ingrained in me. My birthday is the day after the fourth of July, a fact I’ve always secretly taken pride in, because I get to celebrate my birthday alongside my country’s. I also know English better than Telugu, my mother tongue and growing up, I never really felt all that different from my peers. Yes, I was an immigrant and technically wasn’t a citizen, but that didn’t make me any different from everyone else, right?
I really wish I was right.
The story of my family’s journey from India echoes many others: we immigrated to the U.S. in 2004, my father on an H1 visa and my mother and I on an H4. Full of hope, grit and dreams, my parents slowly climbed the rungs of the corporate ladder, solely to give me and my brother the opportunities they could only dream of attaining when they lived in India. My childhood was rife with fireworks and sticky fingers, Crayola boxes and spelling bees. I’ve grown up on both coasts, and even though I’ve considered different states my home, I’ve always considered the US my home.
I want to be a journalist to not only uncover the wrongdoings omnipresent in our society, but to also shed light on the progress that our country is making, and I can only do that through practice and experience. If I can’t get a job or even a paid internship in college, if I have to go through university without an ounce of paid experience, then what’s the point? How am I supposed to do what our Constitution dictates and exercise my right to the pursuit of liberty and happiness, when I can’t successfully do that here — the land of the free and the home of the brave?
I’ve begun to seriously apply and consider attending universities in Canada, as our neighbor up north is much more legal immigrant friendly than us. According to Forbes policy reporter Andy J. Semotiuk, Canada has recently implemented policies that involve post graduation work permits, as well as permanent residency opportunities, without quotas or restrictions based on country of birth. I’m considering leaving my family, my friends, everything I consider home, just to pursue the things my parents came here to provide me with. Ironic, right?
Because in a country with some of the highest tuition rates, what are the costs of not being able to work while in university, not being able to take out loans? What are the costs of not being able to gain experience in a field that demands experience to perfect? What are the costs of me having to possibly uproot everything I hold near to me at the end of my college career and have to start all over in a country I have no experience with whatsoever, a country whose language I can barely speak? As dramatic as it sounds, what are the costs of staying in a country that doesn’t want me as badly as I want it?
I’ve started to detest being caught in this web of passion, parents, visa, immigration, Trump, policies, bills — the list could go on.
I loved my childhood in India. I still remember curling up in my room, tracing the letters of a book as I learnt to read. I still remember yearly Christmas break trips to my hometown, where I’d spend practically every moment with my cousin; our families joked about us being connected at the hip. I still remember the incessant rain that would pour down for approximately six out of the twelve months in the year.
The part I remember the most, though? Moving.
The memory of the frequent tears and the anger I felt at my parents for uprooting my life and moving me halfway across the world to America lingered for months after we moved in the middle of my fourth grade year.
But cheesy as it sounds, I found and created a new home for myself here in Cupertino. The rest of elementary school passed by in a blur of adjustments and making new friends, and middle school seemed to be over as soon as it started. And then I walked into high school.
High school opened up doors for me.
The first door it opened was a door of information. It opened my eyes and broadened my perspective about the world around me, the people around me and most startlingly, a realization that my living in this country wasn’t as simple of a situation as I’d previously believed. My parents began to stop treating me like a naive child and began to educate me about our visa status — which I appreciated and respected — but they also began to offer me constant reminders that since I wasn’t a citizen, I had to work harder and stand out. These reminders, to be honest, scared me a little.
The second door it opened was one of passion. Not to be dramatic, but I fell in love with writing. I began to perceive words on paper as a somewhat magical way to express myself, and journalism became a viable career option that I started to seriously consider. Yet my awareness of my complicated visa status made journalism an even more risky career to pursue and in some ways, I felt burdened by my passion.
The third door it opened was one of fear. More often than not, I catch myself thinking back to my childhood and wishing I hadn’t moved. I’ve started to detest being caught in this web of passion, parents, visa, immigration, Trump, policies, bills — the list could go on. And I think that’s sad; the fact I sometimes resent the home I love so much because it has placed constraints all around me that I seemingly have no control over.