The Umrikan Dream

Do obstacles in one’s life change one’s aspirations? If something hard or even unexpected occurs, does one turn his or her back on all that has been worked for? There is an idea of a dream which differs from person to person and there are moments when an obstacle slows or possibly halts progression.

The American Dream – Umrika-n as most of us Nepalese would like to say – is a fantasy that has not come true for the millions that are toiling in the system hoping to get a piece of the wealth which America so liberally shares with its rich upper class. Most of us are still chasing the American idyll of fast cars, fancy clothes and glamorous jobs and I am one of them.

I was fortunate enough to study in one of the best schools back home. We had people from USEF coming in all the time. Ever since I finished my middle school, we were asked to focus on our studies because the transcripts lead you to your dreams. From narrowing your search of college to actually memorizing those SAT words, walking around with those flash cards because you were finally old enough to flaunt that you’re applying for college next fall. During high school, America was so “alluring, interesting, new, glamorous,” that most of my high school friends left to study in the United States and so did I wanted to too.

That’s how it all started but things didn’t quite go well and I couldn’t obviously go to USA because the financial aid provided wasn’t reasonable enough.  And being an international student, one of the most challenging and frustrating aspects is the work situation.

I moved to India couple of years back because it was affordable and I must say being an Not- so – international student is undoubtedly both a tough and rewarding experience. But after 2 years in Malaysia and 5 years in India, I have realised that we no longer have to live in America to experience “the Umrikan dream”. Even though there’s a part of me which says “Maybe I should go for my further education but then I have 100 different options to choose from and USA is definitely not one of them anymore.”

The assumption was that once you go to the United States, you don’t leave but it was a one-way street; a one-way migration stream from the developing world to the developed world. But now it’s flowing the other way in a reverse brain drain. The reasons probably are the sluggish U.S. economy and job market at a time of economic boom in some developing nations; stringent U.S. visa laws; the pull of cultural and family ties; and the desire to contribute to one’s homeland.

I have started questioning myself why do I want to spend so much money to study abroad for four years, when I could have easily gone to a local university, build up connections and start their own business with that money than in United States? Even though I am one of those international student chasing the American dream; I think I am happy where I am and who I have become and for how things have worked out so far and for obvious reasons, I would rather stay close to my family.



5 thoughts on “The Umrikan Dream

  1. I live in America, and I do not have a life of ” idyll of fast cars, fancy clothes and glamorous jobs.” Life here is just as hard, with long hours of work, huge mortgage payments, and generally only two weeks vacation. Both parents must work to buy a decent house and have a little bit of money left over after paying all the bills.
    Each generation chases a mythical ideal. Only those who work incredible hours and sacrifice a lot achieve their dreams. Is it worth it?
    Be content with the small things in life—family, friends, a job you enjoy, the beauty of the land where you live. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

  2. That is a wonderful ending to your post. The pull from fantasy lands will always be there, but being realistic enough, we need to strike a balance between what is doable and what is something more of an unpractical dream! The pull has been there within me as, believe me. I’m not preaching to you.. and I totally could relate to your thought process. Staying away from India, my country, made me realize how precious it is. I would rather stay close to my family and be happy. Thanks for sharing!!

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