“The land of plenty”
“The land of the free”
“The land of opportunity”
As a citizen elsewhere in the world, I wondered “Can the United States be THAT incredible?”
Living in Canada watching high taxes eating away at our income, we thought moving to the USA would be a sound financial investment. So when the opportunity arose to transfer our lives south, we took it. Less taxes, more income = more wealth.
“More than any other nation on earth, America has constantly drawn strength and spirit from wave after wave of immigrants. In each generation, they have proved to be the most restless, the most adventurous, the most innovative, the most adventurous of people. Bearing different memories, honoring different heritages, they have strengthened our economy, enriched our culture, renewed our promise of opportunity and freedom for all….” William J Clinton 1998
Moving to the USA on a visa was not an easy endeavor. At the time of the move the Canadian dollar was weak and we lost much of our down payment on our house to the low rate of exchange.
In addition I arrived without the ability to work. I lost my credit rating since I was not earning an income and was in a new country.
September 11, 2001 was a horrific day for many, many reasons. Along with the fears that every other citizen of the world, I had an additional worry. I was a Canadian in the United States with my children. Discussion about closing the border ensued. My husband was visiting friends in Canada. I was afraid he wouldn’t be able to get back into the USA, which would leave me, a non-US citizen without the ability to earn money and to care for my family. I was terrified. It was a relief my fears were unfounded, but I realized that without a green card or American citizenship, I had no rights to earn money to support myself while living in the USA.
My husband had an L1A Visa (entry to the USA was allowed based on his specialized knowledge). Late 2002, regulations changed and I was finally able to get a work permit and register my business. I had been volunteering my services since 1999 while taking computer courses. It was fantastic to be able to attach a value to my skills and have an income for myself again!
There was much to learn about the taxes, the utilities, the HEALTH CARE! There were days lost to this process of conflicting information. The Americans took understanding systems for granted because they learned the processes slowly over time. I was overwhelmed with trying to adapt to new and different ways for the simplest services.
The other losses were emotional. I missed my old friends, I missed the support of family. I knew of others who moved to the USA and the separation from family and friends proved too difficult, so they returned to Canada. Staying home with small children is challenging enough without the geographic isolation of living in another country.
Eventually, I settled into my new life, made new friends and adjusted to changes. I grew to love the United States as much as I love Canada.
Why I Love Canada
I love Canada’s beauty, I’ve travelled from the Atlantic ocean to the Pacific ocean and it’s rugged wilderness and sweeping vistas tug constantly at my heart. It’s beauty leaves me speechless.
I love Canada because it’s my motherland. It birthed me and I’m forever grateful.
I love Canada because of my history. I’m thankful for the relationships I’ve had with my family and friends because they’ve shaped who I am.
Why I Love the USA
I love the United States because I was accepted with open arms by new friends and neighbors. I was the adopted child who, once my paperwork was approved, had the same opportunity as native born Americans to earn money and prove myself.
I love the outspoken American patriotism.
I love the American cities and their architecture.
I love the American schools my children have attended.
Why I Love Both Countries Equally
I love that my children and I have had the opportunity to know two countries intimately.
I love that we call both countries home and can come and go easily. Eventually, I’d like to own property in both places.
I love that my children can choose an exceptional university on either side of the border.
So when it came time to decide if I would become an American citizen, the answer was easier than I expected it to be.
“Yes.” For all the reasons above. Becoming an American citizen was like getting married. I didn’t lose my birth family, I adopted a new one.
I Didn’t Get What I Bargained For
Initially I moved to the USA for the financial opportunity but that’s not why I chose to become a citizen. Actually, in light of recent economic challenges, the financial gain I expected has proven elusive. I chose to become a citizen simply because I value the opportunity the United States has given me. Regardless of the economic challenges Americans are facing, I still believe there is opportunity here and I am thankful the United States has allowed me to pursue it.
“This is the only country in the world which experiences this constant and repeated rebirth. Other countries depend on the multiplication of their own people. This country is constantly drinking strength out of new sources by the voluntary association with it of great bodies of strong men and forward-looking women out of other lands. And so by the gift of the free will of independent people it is being constantly renewed from generation to generation by the same process by which it was originally created….You have just taken an oath of allegiance to the United States. Of allegiance to whom? Of allegience to no one, unless it is God –certainly not allegiance to those who temporarily represent this great Government. You have taken an oath of allegiance to a great ideal, to a great body of principles, to a great hope of the human race.” Woodrow Wilson 1915