What is an immigrant?

A sensitive subject that many would avoid talking about because the number of immigrants in this world has become so large that it feels like everyone is now an immigrant. Many might not like what I will say, but it’s just my opinion, it’s not intended to insult anyone or any culture for that matter. An immigrant is someone who willingly applied to become a resident of another country in order to live a better life than in one’s country or place of origin. An immigrant is someone who is ready for a big change for whatever personal reason they have. You say goodbye to what you once knew and enter into the unknown with hopes that it will be better than your current state.

You pack your bags, sell whatever you can; trying to collect as much money as possible to start a new life. You say goodbye to your family, your friends and you go off with many hopes and dreams. Not to say there is not a huge amount of fear and doubt in this step, nonetheless, it seems like it’s worth it to go through all this torture of completing the process and finally the day has come to go on this plane and go far away to the promise land. You go to a place where you might know little to nothing about it. You may or may not have someone you know in that country; a family member, a friend. You may have to deal with learning a new language so you can communicate and find a job in the new place that you will soon call “home”. You have to learn how to use this country’s currency. For a while you will find yourself converting to your original currency so you can compare. It will always shock you. It will usually be more expensive. Every step you take from finding a place to live, to your means of transportation to the cost of living; it will all be expensive in your eyes because you have no income just yet, you are dipping into your life savings, which is all you have to survive. Your whole life you worked hard and now your money is being spent left right and center on just the basic needs and survival.

Finally you settle down and start to figure things out in this new place and the most important thing now is to find a job so you can live. If you have been getting help till this point by anyone you know, you are well aware it will not be forever. The day will come when you are totally on your own, that’s if you weren’t already from the start.  So first you try to apply for a job with your degree, in your field of expertise.  If you get lucky you will get accepted, if not so lucky, you may have to settle down with any job at this point just to pay your rent and food. And so you start to settle for less because life and the need for survival forces that upon you. It becomes a very frustrating process, going from one job interview to the next and all you hear is: where is your work experience in our country? Say what now??? How the hell are you supposed to have work experience in that country when you just immigrated there? Somebody will have to hire you first, isn’t that logical?? That’s when you start to curse the day you ever thought of leaving your home and coming to this country to be humiliated and looked down on. Meanwhile, you have a high degree and you were respected back home. Is that what you came here for? To allow some nobodies to make you feel like you are nothing???

The struggle may last a really long time in the beginning. Things may hit rock bottom before you find a way out. You may have to eat a lot of shit (not literally obviously) and you may have to hold yourself from speaking many times because you need to make it. You cannot fail. You cannot go back with your head down. You promise yourself to do whatever it takes to succeed, even if it means getting insulted or humiliated. You have a goal to accomplish, you came here for a reason. You may be solo or you may have a family that depends on you. You cannot let them down. You must make it through, somehow, someway. Even if it meant working two jobs just so you can provide the basic needs for your family. You may have to complete some courses to obtain an equivalency to your degree back home so you can work in your field.

Many avenues to choose from, opportunities come and go, jobs come and go. But eventually you make it and you settle down. You build yourself from nothing. You conquered almost every obstacle that came your way because you were determined to succeed. So here you are with a nice house and car. You eat well, you dress well, you made new friends. You have created a new life for yourself. It may not have been an easy road and you may not have the job of your dreams; but in the end, you can say, this is my “home” and this is my country.

Years pass and you are still an immigrant. And the Locals will not hesitate to make you feel inferior every chance they get. It’s like you can never belong, no matter what you do, no matter how much you blend in. The fact that you came to their country makes them feel entitled to belittle you. And the fact that you worked so hard to make it in this new country makes you feel entitled to be one of them. And the struggle continues till forever. Your identity seems to be hazy. Where do you belong really?  The place you were born or the place you made a life of your own? Who are you? Will you have that “immigrant” label as long as you shall live?


…. to be continued.

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