For most migrants, life in America is a mixture of trial and error. A lot of us make things up as we go. There is no particular route to success, but there are many mistakes to avoid when moving to and living in the United States of America. Here are a few lessons I have learned and some from others who were kind enough to share.
I strongly advice coming to America with some kind of long term plan (legal plan, I should add). So many migrants come to America and subconsciously think that just because they are in America, everything happens like magic. BOOM get the job, BOOM get the house, BOOM make six figures. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, expect America to be REAL. We romanticize life in America because we see pictures on social media, movies and our own unrealistic expectations. Plan to hustle, plan to be disappointed at some point, but also plan not to give up.
Life in America is not easy.
Not Being Resourceful
We rely only on the information we are given. We have to learn how to ask for what we want. Learn to think unconventionally. You have to open your mind. Do not be ashamed to ask questions. Know what you want and ask for it: no beating around the bush and no trying to appear “humble”.
The biggest resources are people – of all races and cultures; so it does pay to be nice to others. Also, there are a lot of free resources that we miss out on because we do not ask or know to search for them.
Not Learning the American Culture
A lot of migrants do not take time to learn the American culture. See ehn, culture goes beyond the accent, driving the fine cars, clubbing and taking pictures at historic sites. Culture includes the way money is handled, the way jobs are given to people, how to network in that society, how they communicate and the general thought process of an American.
I have noticed that migrants(including myself) are sometimes in a rush to get to the ”American dream”, we don’t take time to really understand the America we live in.
Here’s a quick advice to someone reading this thinking about moving to Americar: read a lot on the place and culture of the part of America you want to live in. Do your research on how successful migrants are, and also what kind of occupations thrive there. You might also want to know the ratio of black people living there before you end up like the guy in the “Get Out” movie.
Staying Glued to Our Ethnic Communities in America
Yes! I will love to attend the annual Nigerian party. No! I do not want to be around Nigerians ALL the time. Nigerians are great people. Funny, smart, outgoing, just all round wonderful. However, what is the point of leaving Nigeria, moving to America and then hanging out with ONLY Nigerians? Personally, I think that defeats the whole point of being in America. I do have A LOT of Nigerian friends in America who are awesome, but guess what? We are not the dominant culture. We are mostly migrants or our parents were migrants, and because of our cultural background, we have a similar lens on life. In order to thrive in America you need to have multiple lenses on life. So, get as many diverse friends as you can have.
Not Adequately Preparing for Homesick Days
You will get home sick at some point in your stay in America. Though America is wonderful and a great place to live, nothing replaces home. Nothing ever will. Put things in place to cheer you up on the days you feel down.
Create a photo-album or re-read letters from loved ones back home. One of the things I do when am home-sick is call my parents early in the morning and just talk/Skype with them all day. I might take a day off work (use my vacation time) because it is that important to me.
Another thing I will say helps is having a strong support system back home. There will be days you might feel like giving up, some days you just want to pack all your ‘kata’ and go home and just be like “look, this suffer head it haff do” because nothing seems to be working (I have had MANY of those). It’s on those days that the love of the people who are in your life shines the brightest.
Not Taking Care of Your Health
Most migrants throw away the autonomy of their health once they get to America, some never had it in the first place. We must make it a priority to know what we are putting in our bodies and what the effects are. FYI: going to the gym doesn’t mean you are healthy. Nutrition goes hand in hand with exercise. Health is not just physical. Pay attention to your mental, emotional and social health.
Please, African people pay attention to your emotional and mental health. Not everything is juju; most things are preventable.
Comparing Yourself to Other Immigrants
It is hard not to compare your progress to others, but there are some few things you want to remember.
a) your destinies and life goals are not the same, you are not going where they are going. Stay in your lane. b) You don’t know how they got their success. There are so many migrants who live flashy lives but cant sleep at night. They live in fear because they are illegal.
c) Don’t envy the glory until you know the story. Some migrants are legit legal and are successful but they went through hell. It was not easy for them at all.
Don’t compare your chapter 1 to another persons chapter 100.
Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks | Dreamstime.com