With each step that I took out of Hancock International Airport, many feelings and thoughts rushed into my mind. This walk was very different from the first time I came to America as a 15-year-old exchange student, from Korea. Back then, I had been someone whose sole responsibility was to take care of himself. Only one year had passed but the number of ordeals that I would have to face and take responsibility for had increased greatly.
After only few months in Upstate New York, I rapidly fell in love with the country. As day passed by, my American Dream of finishing education in the U.S grew exponentially and I conveyed my speculation to my parents. I explained to them that it would also be a great opportunity for two of my younger brothers. My parents have always had good education for my brothers and me as one of their priorities.
However, the notion of moving to a nation a few thousand miles away with a different culture was a lot for my traditional parents. I consistently told them about my life here, and how much I appreciated the education I was provided. My persistency finally bore a fruit. They finally agreed for my brothers’ and my education in the U.S.
All of my family minus my dad came to the States. We knew no one; no connection or whatsoever. Settling down was going to be really hard and someone had to step up and take charge, I did. My mom spoke no English and my brothers were very young. At age of 16, I had to take a double job; a boy and man of the household.
I had to do things most of my peers won’t deal with until they’re in their 20’s. From small things like getting an internet set up to big things like getting an apartment, I had to do it. Of course my mom had to sign the contracts and my dad had to be financially responsible, but I had to research the best deal, do all the talking and translating, and get the required documents ready. It might not sound so difficult, but no social security number and citizenship, it’s an uphill battle. Buying a car and insurance proved to be the hardest. I had to provide the both car dealer and insurance agents with bunch of documents required by DMV. It was the most confusing and complicated task I ever dealt with. After a few failed attempts, everything was ready at last. Within one month of arrival, we had most of things under control.
More responsibilities also awaited me back in the household. Lacking a father figure in their lives, I couldn’t just be friend and big brother to Paul and Mike; I had to take that awkward role of my father used to play. Scolding, yelling, and admonishing to my brothers made me as uncomfortable as extra tight jeans. But it had to be done. The new culture and surrounding overwhelmed Paul and Mike, who are less adaptive and outgoing than I. They also had a hard time with English and their schoolwork. Having been through the similar situation, I was glad to walk them through their adversities. I always tried to give them my genuine perspective, even on things like friends and girls, which they appreciated very much. We became better brothers and friends since coming to America.
In addition to being masculine figure, I also took binary role of femininity. Not only do I have to look after my brothers, but I also cook dinner for the family regularly, when my mother came home late from English classes at local community center. I’ve become quite a talented cook and I enjoy cooking. My family loves my dishes and that was enough motivation. My mom wanted to enroll in local community college to learn English and re-earn her nursing degree. In order for her to attend, her legal status was necessary. I volunteered to fill out the application, also known as I-539, which is usually done by immigrant lawyers. My responsibilities almost doubled since my mom had her schoolwork and on top of that, I tutored her in English every Saturday for 3 hours. Especially during my soccer and tennis season(or simply just ‘Sometimes?’), my obligations were almost unbearable, but I didn’t complain much. I still silently fulfilled my job and not having much time ultimately helped me to learn vitality of time management.
By providing and performing for my family these past two years, I matured and became more independent and thoughtful individual. Next year, I’ll be first in my family to attend four-year University. My American Dream, attending American University, is almost tangible. What I had encountered will help me be successful in college. I’m ardent to meet new people, broaden my perspective, and grow intellectually.
P.S-When I’m gone to college, I don’t want my mother or Paul calling me to talk to Time Warner Cable agent. Not that I don’t want to, but I want Paul to step and take care of the household without my presence.
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