The Funny Truth About Living in America
“Bitter-sweet reality of an immigrant living in US”
You can call me Inday. We utter this common name for a female in the Philippines, especially if we do not know their real name. Many Filipinos are dying to migrate to other countries with the hopes of giving a good life to their families. As you can see, there are many of my own kinds scattered to every part of the world. Most of these immigrants are working like dogs day and night, night and day. Their dreams of achieving prosperity in life has become their strength at their most vulnerable times, deflecting their utmost yearning for their love ones’ presence by reminiscing the good memories way back home. They endure every cold breeze of winter just to earn a bit of money to send to their families living on the other side of the world.
My case is not much different from other immigrants. Some say I was lucky enough to marry an American and think that I live a life of abundance. I am Inday Ma-is, a living proof and as a US immigrant for four years, I will tell you the truth that all those perceptions and speculations are delusive.
Let me all tell you a little story, my husband and I have been married since 2006, but it took me more than a year to wait for my visa (that is the law!). Our relationship as a couple during those periods has been tested by many circumstances. Phone texting and internet messaging are some of the significant technologies that kept us together (I could not imagine how our relationship would have worked without those). My husband is just an ordinary US citizen who is making an income at minimum wage, but that did not stop him from coming over to Philippines just to spend time with my family and me.
Time flew by quickly and I finally got my visa in December of 2007. I took a flight heading to America on January 18, 2008. I can still recall when I carried my heavy luggage and the biggest one busted at the airport causing some of my clothes to scatter across the floor (that was a mess)! To enumerate more of my appalling experiences, I had been throwing up the whole time of my trip since I was already pregnant with our child. As I arrived at Chicago O’Hare Airport, I got lost and headed through the door outside (boy that was cold!). The flight to Evansville, Indiana had been delayed for a few hours as some flights were even cancelled due to heavy snow in some part of the states. Therefore, I had to sit and wait until I heard some updates of my flight. While waiting, I decided to eat. Food prices at the airport were excessively much for a poor immigrant like me and all I could afford was a salad for 6 bucks leaving a remaining 19 bucks in my wallet. I was quite exhausted and started to miss my family especially my parents way back home, but I have a husband that waited on me and I finally got excited for us to join as a family (that is sweet!)
Moving on, I arrived at Evansville, Indiana safely at almost 1 am and was so glad to see my mother-in-law with my husband at the airport. My first week in America is tough. It is still fresh in my mind that time when my husband took me for a little tour on the town, we needed to use the $19 left in my wallet.$10 for gas and we bought food from Grandys. We shared one value meal of fried chicken, which cost us $5. The old woman working at the fast food place approached us and asks if we needed another meal and of course, we both responded, “no thanks, we’re good”, knowing we did not have enough money to buy another one.
The year 2008 was not a good year for America. It was when massive recessions here in US had started. My husband and I decided to pursue a degree to get even on the job market’s stiff competition. He enrolled as a computer science major in Game and Simulation Programming while I enrolled in a Masters in Business Administration after I gave birth. We were both in online schools while he also got a little job at a fast food establishment to help us survive our daily needs. One thing that is certain: our life as a couple had lavish form of exigency. After devoting all his time, effort, and resources for more than 3 years on that degree another issue has came just recently. The school has stopped granting him loans in spite his remarkable grades, in fact he was on the Dean’s list every semester. His loans permitted for the bachelors’ degree has reached its limit. In other terms, he needs to shell out his own resources enable to finish his degree, but where should he find that extra money to pay off the high price tuition? Some, or should I say most school institutions here apparently gives trivial importance to those deserving students who run out of budget in getting their precious diploma. The worst part of reality is that he needs to pay off those entire loans with no degree to show off to his prospect employers and to the job that he deserves.
Then, I finally graduated with my MBA just recently, but with the present economic and employment situation, all we can find is a fast food, low paying job regardless of your academic achievements. There is another option. I could engage myself to be an insurance agent that requires my own money for acquiring the license and if my income is not even enough for the rent and food for the month, then being an agent is only an additional burden with unlimited uncertainties of income (that is bitter truth!). I have notice here in the US that there are many marketing businesses almost everywhere. I had applied once thinking that I could get the marketing job that I deserve considering that I graduated with an MBA-Marketing, but only to uncover the fact that I was hired to sell satellite TV products on a commission basis.
There are many immigrants here in America, not only Filipinos that are successful but also that have been through a lot of circumstances and detours before they arrived on an abundant stage.
I have seen some Filipinos that are “Mayabang”, which means boastful or pompous in our language. They wanted to show off everything to their “kababayans”, meaning fellow Filipinos, from home that they have so much in life from working here abroad. But the truth is they have been experiencing those hardships away from home also. No wonder there are so many Filipinos that are dying to go abroad. They are hoping that they will find a fortune from the land of milk and honey. The milk and honey has long since gone and all that has left is the bitter bites of bees!
I have a rough time as an immigrant, but I am still thankful to have such a beautiful family. My loving husband and sweet daughter remind me to continuously hope that dreams do come true sometime or another. They are the reason why I love America despite the odds, because here is where my family belongs. My piece of advice to all my readers, especially to other nationalities who plan to go abroad and for those who plan to leave their career from their country and leave their families for greener pasture, make sure that what you came for is worth the struggles.
It is true that there is no place like home but you can also find a home from other place. The choice is yours because happiness dwells wherever our heart belongs!