#FlashbackFriday: Nine Years An Immigrant

This past Monday, I celebrated my 9th ‘JJCversary’, the anniversary of my arrival in America. I still remember the events that led up to that day. After years of killing my vibe (story for another day), the US embassy in Nigeria finally issued me a visa. But for me, it was completely wrong timing. Call-up letters were due and I was looking forward to going to NYSC camp. I’d totally pushed the thought of moving to the US to the farthest part of my mind and I was finally ready to settle into my life as a post-undergrad adult.

So when that visa came through, it was bitter-sweet. I tried to do the initial gra-gra of telling my family of my dream of going for NYSC before leaving (I was posted to Plateau state, by the way), but that did not fly. The only solution was to buy the ticket and put me on the plane ASAP…and that was exactly what they did.

I cried a little on the plane out of both sadness and excitement, and then I fell asleep. The cold woke me up and I shivered the whole time until we got to Baltimore. It was March in Maryland; everyone thought the weather was great except me. You can’t take a girl from 98 degrees to like 60 degrees in 13 hours and think it is okay. Kole werk!

First day in America. My dad picked me up; clearly, he knew I needed two jackets to survive!

Every immigrant has a first-day story: the tears, the joy, and the uncertainty of a new life. My family had to seize and hide my passport because they legit thought I was hatching a plan to escape back to Nigeria (not that I didn’t strongly consider it). As time has passed, however, I am thankful that I did not throw away the opportunity to live here. I’ve been blessed in more ways than I can count and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. I’ve learned a few lessons along the way such as:

  1. Opportunities to develop yourself are everywhere; take advantage of them while you can
  2. The people you left back home are still family/friends. Stay in touch and love them through the distance as much as you can
  3. Be proud of where you’ve come from, accent and all. When it comes down to it, good character and dedication to excellence beats everything else
  4. Learn about other people and their way of life. Don’t confine yourself to what is familiar

I miss home, I wish I could go every year, but di lack of enuff vacation time in dis yankee wee nor let it appun! So I just make up for it with my favorite Naija blogs, music, and the food I cook at home.

Happy JJCversary to me! Here’s to year ten and all its awesomeness!!

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