Nine years ago on the twentieth of August, I entered the United States for the first time. I still remember the exhilaration of leaving home and becoming independent. I remember the American who let me cut in the immigration line because he "didn't want me to be late for class." I remember getting on the plane and getting seated next to Indian but then getting moved to a seat in the middle of a group of girl scouts (!) from Winchester, England. (Yes, they were in uniform.) I remember chatting with one of them, who asked me -- in complete sincerity -- if cars in India are supposed to drive on a particular side of the road.
After arriving at Heathrow, I was bussed to Gatwick. I was awed by Gatwick airport and recall not being bored at all during the six-hour layover. On the other hand, I remember being a little unhappy about sitting next to a large guy on the trip from London to Charlotte. But he was a nice Gujarati guy who showed me a picture of the woman he had just married. The flight over the Atlantic seemed to last forever but we had gorgeous views of Newfoundland and Manhattan.
And I remember standing in line for immigration at Charlotte-Douglas where an INS officer put on a serious face until she completed my visa verification. Then she smiled and wished me good luck. And she mentioned that there were other Davidson students on my plane from France and Bulgaria.
Then my host mother and her son, Brandon, waiting with a sign with my name on it. (It was the first time I was greeted with a sign and I thought it was way cool; I was 18.) They stopped at an enormous store on the way home. At least it seemed enormous at the time. I think it was Media Play. Finally we arrived at her suburban house and I thought I'd nap for an hour, but I woke up at 2 am to find that I had slept six hours. Annette, my host mother, was up, too, so we chatted for a while. I recall affirmative action coming up in the conversation. Finally I went back to my room, watched a little TV, wrote a letter to Snehal Haridas, and fell asleep again.