by Akshay Vannery
What is it really like to immigrate to America?
One word: enriching.
I was born in a middle-class family in Mumbai, India.
My parents are educated and employed, but certainly not rich.
I moved to America to get a second Masters degree in 2011, but I’m never going back.
I am so much richer than I ever was. And I don’t mean just money, but in experience, diversity and exposure. I certainly make a lot more money than I ever dreamed of making 5 years ago.
I am a curious person by nature, and this country provides a fertile environment for people like me. People who want to ask questions, learn, fail, ask more questions, get feedback and finally ask more questions!
As an opinionated idealist, where else can I criticize people, policy, government, religion, culture and yet be valued for my opinions instead of being sneered at?
In my limited experience, I have concluded that the United States is at a bare minimum a meritocracy, where a person is valued, appreciated and suitably rewarded irrespective of gender, race, nationality, religion or whatever sets you apart from the mainstream.
Life is great. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty damn close.
Everybody knows this, and that’s where the problem starts…
The United States attracts all kinds of people from all corners of the world.
As proclaimed by the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
But there’s a limit as to how many people can be sustainably let in, so as not to wreck everything wonderful this great country has created in a relatively short time.
The immigration process is (for want of a better word) a bitch.
A real big-time bitch!
My grad school had people coming in from 88 countries. Hundreds of young talented people had to leave the US after graduating. Some didn’t get jobs, some didn’t get their work visas approved, some got neither.
My pool of international friends has gotten thinner and thinner over the last couple of years as a lot of people just decided this process was too cumbersome to deal with.
But I’m hanging in here…have been…for dear life.
I’ve pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America!
It’s easy to be entitled and complain about little things when the big problems are being taken care of.
But seriously, my American friends…try and live in the Third World for a while to truly appreciate everything great this country has to offer.
My name is Akshay Vannery.
I’m just a poor boy but I need no sympathy!
I am an ordinary guy with extra-ordinary ambitions. Usually quite agreeable and reasonable, I like playing devil’s advocate.
I like intelligent conversation but am guilty of playing the fool at the most inopportune moments.
I was born and raised in Mumbai India and am currently a rootless hobo traveling around the Western Hemisphere looking for work.
You can ask me anything.
Glossary of words as used in the article:
1. Meritocracy: a social system that rewards people based on their abilities and achievements rather than other factors, such as their wealth, gender, seniority or race.
2. Idealist: a person who is guided more by ideals than by practical considerations.
3. Bitch: a curse word for a difficult or unpleasant situation or thing.
4. Devil’s advocate: someone who pretends, in an argument or discussion, to be against an idea or plan that a lot of people support, in order to make people discuss and consider it in more detail.
5. Libertarian: somebody who believes in the principle that people should have complete freedom of thought and action.
6. Atheist: somebody who does not believe in God or deities.
7. Foodie: lover of food.
8. Nerd: somebody who is considered to be excessively interested in a subject or activity that is regarded as too technical or scientific.
9. ENFP: a personality type that describes people who are outgoing and creative with the key skill of perceiving complicated patterns and information and assimilating it quickly.