Finding a place to call home

first month in America

The first month in America can be very hard for newcomers. But things get better with time and practice. Our author shares her experience

During my first month in America, I didn’t know where to start from. Even though I was prepared for the new things in a new country I still could not take it. I remember I was crying myself to sleep every night, just like every 16-years-old girls do when they face life challenges. I missed my friends, my home, my family, my school, and most of all the way I live my life there. And for a thousand times.

I question myself several times why would I choose to come here, the place where I know no one, the place I have never been before, and the people who I never met before. But the answer was for a better life, a better education, and a better society. I really had a hard time because I have to start all over.

The worst things were the communication and transportation.

I was lucky enough that I spoke some English (very little). My family was the very first family from Burma in the state at that time and there were no interpreter or translator or what so ever. So think about it. How hard was that? I was 16 but since I spoke some English I had to help as an interpreter between my family and the staffs from our resettlement immigration office, social service, health care system, and education system. (That is why I love doing interpreting and translating today).

I was very useful even though I spoke very little English. I’ve always proud of myself for that. That was the only thing made me happy at that time -knowing that even though I was only 16, I could be very helpful with the little things I could do.

Transportation was the other worse experience I have had.

I’ve to take two or three buses and walked a couple blocks to get to anywhere. Walking wasn’t a problem at all, because I have walked all my life in the camp. But I had a problem of how to ride the bus. I didn’t know which bus goes to where again I was new to the country and spoke very little English.

I remember one time I was on the bus with my family from grocery shopping and right when the bus started to move, I accidentally dropped two bags of my grocery. They happened to be two big cabbages and lots of tomatoes. It was everywhere in the bus. I was so embarrassed as I try to pick them up. Everything was very challenging for me but I never wanted to give up.

Thank you, America! I finally have a place to call “Home”. A place I belong to.

Today when I look back at what I’ve gone through in these 8 years, I’m so proud of myself. I graduated from high school with a 3.5 GPA, earning my CNA, CHW, and medical interpreter diploma. And today, on my third years in college, I can say I made it this far and will continue as my life goes on.

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About Anna S.
Anna is a refugee from Burma.