Just Another Immigrant Story


An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.

We were doing well in Christchurch, New Zealand. I had a good job at company that was contracted to Unisys to do a research and development of a computer business language. Unisys terminated the contact.  Instead of waiting to be unemployed, Rose and I decided to move to the United States of America.  We believe the United States is the land of opportunity.  We can chase our dream in the USA. I have a computer science degree, and Rose has a Pharmacy degree --- We will do just fine. No worries.

1994 was the time of the Y2K bug when most USA companies were hiring Information Technology workers.  I rode that wave of hiring, and I was able to find an IT resourcing company in New Jersey that assigned me to St Louis, Missouri. We sold all our belongings except for the Kirby Generation Vacuum Cleaner because it was so expensive and nobody wanted it.

We came to the USA with 6 luggages’ and a vacuum cleaner. Really stupid but 20 years later, Kirby never stopped vacuuming our carpet. LOL.

In all our senses, everything was enormous in the USA, the airport was huge. It's scary if you come from a country with more sheep than people. Los Angeles (LAX) was our port of entry, and traveling with the family was not easy. Tim was 4 years old at the time. We have to shuttle to a concourse; we got separated from each other.  How we managed to get together, I can't remember. Maybe our guardian angels guided us.  I was in a state of trance.  There were some good Samaritans who helped get to our connecting flight to Chicago then to St Louis.

We got our rental car, and the Interstate highway was too overwhelming to drive. I was scared but I did not show it to my family. We got lost, and I stopped and asked few strangers. One couple offered us to follow their car towards our hotel.  There was no GPS during the time.  And, we arrived safe and sound. Whew!

Many things were opposite like I was driving left in NZ, while in USA I drive at the right side of the road.  I tried to flip my signal light; instead the windshield wiper will go back and forth. Too confusing.

My work mates in NZ bet that we will not survive, and will be back to Christchurch in no time. They were wrong.  We never look back, the move was permanent. We were determined to live in the USA no matter what it takes.  We don't care if we start all over again.

The company only pays few weeks for the hotel accommodation and the car rental. I have to find an abode and a means of transportation pretty soon. 

Well, finding an apartment is easy but if you don’t have a “CREDIT” they will not let you in.

Same with leasing or buying a car… No credit no car. 

How about the insurance?  No credit no insurance. 

All I have is a letter from my company that I have a job which helped a little.  At least we have our life savings from NZ that paid superfluous fee to landlord, car dealer, and insurance broker.  Money talks.  But it can only go so much, and everything was wiped out. Zilch. Nada. Zero. 

In our apartment we slept on the floor. After few months, we tried to buy a bed, but the store needs a credit --- we don’t have a credit history.  No credit, no bed.  

We settled for a cheap foam bed, and slept on it until it became very soft.  

Establishing a credit takes years, and now we are in a very good standing.  Buying major item is now easy.

The New Jersey company took some good portion of my salary so when I received my Green Card; I accepted a well-paid position at another company.  Rose studied and attended reviews for the Pharmacy certification. She has to go through many requirements, and it’s tough for foreign graduates to get certified.  I remember she has to take an exam in Chicago, but we have no money and no credit card for an airfare.  I was sick with flu, and I have to drive the car on a stormy night for Rose to take the exam early in the morning.  We were at the venue around 5AM.  To make story short, she is now a Pharmacist specializing in infectious disease.

We now have a house in a nice neighborhood. And of course we are still paying the mortgage.  We go to vacation every year.  We have cars to transport where ever we want.  We have some 401K savings for the golden years.

We are now naturalized American citizens. We will keep plugging along and keep chasing that American Dream. And for our children living in the USA, the land of opportunity is a big blessing, something that we are very grateful to God and to the people who get us here.



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