You’ve made it. I don’t know where you’re from but you’re now here in the USA, the land of milk and honey. You might be a little bit jet lagged, overwhelmed or simply agnostic to your presence here. But what the heck… you’re here!
For starters, understand your immigrant status. Did you come in as a tourist, a business visitor, an investor, a student, a fiancé, a refugee, a border crosser, an immigrant or a full-fledged US citizen? It doesn’t matter at this point. However, you need to know “what” you are. And you need to be honest with yourself with regard to your plan of making the United States your home.
You need a game plan. You need a source of income. You need a place to stay. You need a support group. You need a church. You need access to the internet. You need identification. Yes, you do need all of these things.
Let’s start with your game plan. It could be as elaborate as knowing every step to get your immigrant status. You clearly know if you need to hire an attorney and your documents are either with you or on the way to the states via FedEx or UPS. Or your plan could be as vague as going with whatever comes your way. The latter sucks! It’s best to know all your options from the get go. This way, you’re not wasting time, which is of the essence.
In the land of the free, nothing is free! You’ll need a source of income. Are you coming into the country with money or a pipeline of funds? Or are you here with the clothes on your back and a few dollars to your name? Either way, you’ll need to be able to provide for yourself. You’ll need to sustain yourself here in the states. As illegal as it is, employers still hire workers who are NOT supposed to be working. Here in Los Angeles, minimum wage is $10.00. That’s a start!
As hospitable as your relatives or siblings are, they are busy taking care of themselves, even if most of them find it hard to admit to this. But you’ll need a place to stay. Barter. Help out. You’d be stupid to think you can be their guest forever. Follow the “3 Day Rule”. If you’re still living with other people after three days, you better offer to help around the house and offer to pay “rent”. Give them an opportunity to refuse your offer. After 15 days… repeat! You do not want to get complacent in other people’s home.
Jump on to social media like Facebook or Twitter and let your friends know you’re in town. It helps! Some of them will take you out to dinner, give you cash, give you something to start with, hold your hand when things get shaky and even help you when you need them most. Don’t abuse them though. They can only help you so much.
The best place to start making friends and to start building a productive network is through your local church community. Get plugged in! Network! Make new friends. Be nice. Be a generous receiver. Ditch the false humility. Say “Thank you” a lot! Give these new friends an opportunity to help you. Appreciate! In time, you’ll be where they are and they’ll be proud of you.
You’ll want to reconnect with your loved ones overseas. It can get very lonely here in the states, specially during the Christmas season. Valentine’s day too! Okay fine… mother’s day and father’s day as well. Birthdays, even. Having access to the world can bridge the loneliness gap. Get a smart phone with Internet access. It doesn’t have to be the fanciest. It just has to be smart.
Go to your local DMV. Apply for an ID. Even illegal aliens are given an ID here in California via AB60. Look into it. You always want to keep proper identification on you. But keep it close to you. Don’t let anybody steal your identity. Why would they anyway?
Have fun and reflect a lot. Be honest with yourself and find out as soon as possible if living in the United States is for you. It’s different. If you’re not used to independence, it may feel overwhelming. Give it a shot.
Have a heart to heart talk with yourself until you find that inner peace. Then commit to your decision, whether its to stay and make a different life for yourself over here or to enjoy your temporary time here and go back to your point of origin with closure in your heart and mind.
Either way is fine as long as you’re fine.
At the end of the day, no one is responsible for you and to you except yourself. Go make it happen!
Paco Arespacochaga is an artist/musician, who migrated to the United States in 2001. He plays drums for the band, INTRoVOYS.