Over eight years ago, little did I know how much my life and the life of my family would change so much. Having grown up in a small town in Romania, I led a life of simple means. I had a good job, a wonderful wife and child and a family circle that I grew up with. I knew if I remained in Romania, my life would remain unchanged except perhaps for the addition of more children and lateral movement in my job. I felt that it just wasn’t enough until one day while perusing an international travel magazine, I realized that I wanted so much more for my immediate family, as well as myself.
If I was going to succeed in life, it would be necessary to initiate a once-in-a-life time chance for opportunity. I would have to relocate in order to take that chance. Of course, I consulted with my wife who agreed with my similar thoughts. At the time of our decision we were living in Spain, therefore had an idea what it would be like relocating again, but this time would be new and different challenges. I researched various geographical parts of Europe, but after many in-depth discussions with my wife, decided we would prefer to venture much further than the European continent. We would have to travel across the Atlantic and to experience the American way of life. It was a hard decision at first, but one which we both agreed would be a challenging, yet fruitful experience.
Resettling in a new country is very difficult at best. There are many things that one does not realize which can be roadblocks to entering a country in order to gain residency and eventually citizenship. There are no textbooks or websites that I know of that detail the trials and tribulations of entering a new country with the intention of permanent residency. No matter the roadblocks, my family and I were determined that we were moving forward with our lives and our decision to move was a smart one. When one thinks of coming to America it is always images of being ship bound and seeing the Statue of Liberty in the distance. I cannot image how the immigrants of yesteryear felt when passing through Ellis Island and then setting foot on America. For my family and I, it was different. We knew that we were about to embark on a new experience. We knew that, at times, it may be difficult to integrate into American society (after all we were immigrants from another continent). I always believed that everything in “life” is not always handed to you. I never expected empathy or handouts when coming to America. I knew that with perseverance and hard work I would firsthand experience the “American way of life.” Yet, like most anyone, I was afraid of failing. I was worried, and I am most fortunate that my wife helped allay my fears.
Being an immigrant is no easy task. I was fortunate in that I had a good command of the English language, though there were some phrases which I was quite unfamiliar. My first step in settling was to find appropriate housing. I knew that finding a place to rent would be expensive, and I was fortunate to have some savings available. In seeking housing, I had several factors to consider. Once such factor was that I couldn’t initially afford a car, therefore public transportation was a necessity. I was fortunate to find an area with both bus and train service. I also wanted to ensure that my child would be able to attend a school in nearby proximity of our home. Fortunately, our rental apartment was a short distance to the local public school. Next was my biggest task, to find gainful employment. I was fortunate that I have IT experience and only after six-weeks did I secure employment. I must admit that my job search was an 8-hour day, but in the end, it payed off. I was able to find a job that provided the opportunity for advancement as well as provide benefits necessary for myself and my family. When speaking of benefits, one of my biggest concerns was to find good medical care for my family and myself. After speaking with co-workers (who were so considerate and friendly), I was able to find a pediatrician for our child and a family physician for both me and my wife.
It is now eight years since we made our move to America. In retrospect, we made the right decision. Our child is acclimating to American society thanks to his teachers and schoolmates. My spouse is happily involved in community activities and has even met a few friends from our homeland of Romania. We are not yet U.S. citizens, but have been studying as much as we can and hope to become citizens within the next year.
I must add that we were very blessed that we were accepted in our neighborhood and that we have truly settled into American Society. We are the fortunate ones. We have heard stories how those from other countries who have different religions or are of a different race have had extreme difficulty being accepted. We have also heard of others that have limited command of the English language or have minimal job skills that have had a difficulty of transitioning.
I am appreciative that everything has worked out for us, thus far. Even though we are yet to be American citizens, we feel as though we are. There are times when we miss our families in Romania, and plan to visit them (or they visit us) soon.
If I was to give advice to anyone who is considering coming to America to live, I would recommend they give it careful and thoughtful consideration. I would suggest they be prepared to acclimate to the American culture. It is not always as simple as you may imagine, especially if you have a family. The American culture is quite different from any other. The culture is a competitive one. Any immigrant must have the stamina and determination to recognize that there will be downfalls as well as accomplishments. The key is to possess a positive outlook and to fully acclimate to the cultural norms and differences. With all that said, America is a country of immigrants and once you adapt you too will soon feel, much like we do, like an American citizen.