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  • Writer's pictureAishwarya Lahariya

A one way ticket from the US to home?

A year ago today, I had just landed on Mumbai airport, after a 30 hour journey from Greenville, SC, USA. On a one way ticket. This was it. I had left my life of 5 years in the US, packed everything in 13 overweight bags (for both me and my partner) and taken the leap. One can rightfully argue how come a life of 5 years mean so much vs my 20 years living and growing up in India. But my most substantial and transformative years were in the US. Since the age of 15 I had been living away from home, in hostels or dorms in India. But it was in the US that I made my first home, while studying for my master's degree. I was in the US when I got my first job as student dining worker and earned my first salary. My first big job after my master's degree, my first car, my first luxury apartment, my first bikini on a beach and getting truly comfortable with my body and my style, even my dream wedding (more about that one in a later blog). My true sense of freedom was in the US. Needless to say, the emotions were mixed, but both me and Adhiraj (my partner) were joking on the airport lounge that we are leaving the US on 4th of July, we are finally independent from this country.

The reasons:

  1. I wanted the freedom to work on my startup without the looming burden whether my visa allows me to do so.

  2. I wanted the freedom to work as many jobs as possible and not being tied up to the employer sponsoring my visa, for a 'non-immigrant alien'; never liked that term.

For those unknown to the immigration world, non-citizens in the US are called non-immigrant ALIENS. As if I will invade the land, from the people who are expert at doing it since they themselves live on invaded land. Anyway, so those were the reasons. But it was not a sudden decision, it was as calculated as it can be. We didn't dash into our supervisor's office and shout I QUIT at our jobs. Being the scientists that we are, we took an absolute calculated call, one that was 6-8 months long. (Or maybe we are both scientists because we both are primarily so logical).

It all started one fine morning when I woke up with the realization , that I am missing home and I don't know what I am doing with my life. SCRATCH THAT. This isn't a movie. Once I was sure I wanted to start my own venture, so was Adhiraj, we explored all possible options:

  1. Can we secure more responsibilities and better projects in our current roles? The idea of a stable job and regular salary is very comfy. Answer - Yes, tired, still felt can do more.

  2. Read countless articles on how H1-B or F-1 visa holders can start something in the US, consulted with attorneys. Answer - Almost no options.

  3. Checked our savings. Do we have the cushion to fall back if our ideas fail? Answer came - Yes.

  4. Are we sure India is the only option. We explored Canada too. Answer- Yes.

Then started the actual calculations:

  1. Mine, His and Our savings. We needed 6 more fully working-highly saving months.

  2. Will we be happy?

    1. We came up with a system together. List all factors that affect your life and lifestyle- job, ease of doing job, infrastructure, visa rules, closeness family, culture, friends, luxury etc. This list differs for each individual.

    2. Rated each factor on your list on a scale of -5 to +5, for both India and the US. Rating is highly personal too.

    3. Added up totals for both India and the US. Answer - Mostly yes.

  3. We decided to move.

I still remember the calls home, when we told we will be there in 6 months, for good. They were ecstatic, half of the friends didn't believe, friends in the US were a little sad. The next 6 months were crazy. I always lived to the fullest when I was in the US, but these 6 months were something else. As soon as May hit, Adhiraj and I took my dear blue CRV for an 11 state road trip on the east cost covering 3500+ miles and going to each place we have been - our university towns, met most of the friends and family, my three different job locations, each spot that we cherished. The packing up at home was heartbreaking. We were selling many things that we lovingly bought, only keeping the gifts, memories. We maxed out our vouchers and benefits to affordably get 11 checked, 2 cabin and undisclosed weight of backpacks. That was it.

It has been one year today, I still haven't deleted the pictures of stuff we were selling. Or of our empty home in Greenville. It will always be special. But the last one year has been eventful to say the least. We felt the reverse cultural shock, for 6 months neither of us asked each other are we happy, and just yesterday, Adhiraj told me something I have been feeling too: I can't say it feels like yesterday, I felt this year.

Why I am writing this, because I know there are many people in similar boat as us. Confused what to do next, confused to move countries, confused to switch jobs or take a leap. I wanted to provide an objective way how I decided things. Having my partner on the same page helped immensely on personal front. But maybe, our -5 to +5 scale helps you in making decisions too.

Would you like to know more about my and our experience once we came back?

2 comentarios

Miembro desconocido
06 jul 2023

Absolutely inspiring, Aishwarya! So proud to see you being brave and taking charge of your life to create something meaningful. Would love to know more about your experience after moving back to India.

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Aishwarya Lahariya
Aishwarya Lahariya
07 jul 2023
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Thank you Aparna!!

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