Editorial Featured FEATURED STORIES Home Opinion Verge Voices

The Perks of Being an Immigrant

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Now this may come as news to some people, but I was not born in America. I was instead born in a hospital just a few miles from the beach in India. However, I am a naturalized American citizen; this means that I literally pledged my allegiance to the United States of America.
With what has been happening in America recently, I thought I could show people that being an immigrant is more than what is being portrayed in the media. Here are some perks that I grew up with and continue to reap the benefits from.
Because my parents moved to America from India, it means that most of my family lives in India, and that means I get to fly around the world to see them. My first flight was at the tender age of 7 months and my second flight was only 2 months later. I get to fly around the world to see my family every couple of years and do tourist-y things, like see the Taj Mahal at sunrise.

Image taken from Photo Blog by Rajan Parrikar

Being Bilingual
I’ve been speaking Marathi for basically my entire life, only making the switch to English when I was 3. My first word, however, was Tata, the British way of saying “goodbye”. Being bilingual from a young age made it much easier for me to pick up other languages that I hear and learn. It also means that I had to re-learn how to spell certain words like “color” and “harbor”. My mother speaks a plethora of languages and because of her speaking on the phone with her friends, I am now fluent in quite a few languages and can understand even more.
School Lunches
I have nothing against peanut butter and jelly, but when you get to bring in Indian food leftovers everyday, it’s hard to settle for a mediocre sandwich. Sometimes, I even got a fresh new dish made that morning by my mom. She would wake up early to make me and my brother foods that our friends would ask to trade for. Fruit Roll-Ups for our fresh cut mangos, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for our homemade vegetable dish.
We don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter, but in not doing so, those times of the year are free for us to go on some really fun vacations. One Christmas break, we took a cruise to Mexico. We do also celebrate some amazing holidays such as Diwali, the festival of lights, and Holi, the festival of colors.
Image taken from DiwaliFestival.org

Even though America is a melting pot, I get to say that I am the child of a country with thousands of years of history. We have thousands of years of temples, castles, fashions, festivals and so much more. To have visited India is paramount to a spiritual experience that so many celebrities tout about, travelling through lush jungles and arid deserts. It is a country that is learning how to thrive again even after so much loss.
So, what’s the best thing about being an immigrant? Simply put: it’s that I get to say I’m proud of being from America and India.