Expanding Horizons in New York City
By Laima Eglite, Baltic-American Freedom Foundation Intern
When I arrived at the beginning of my program, it was my first time in the United States. and from the minute I landed in JFK airport still everyday something surprising and new appears in American culture. The biggest difference from my home in Latvia was the size of everything. Buildings, cars and scale of everything that Americans do.
My first month here I visited MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to attend a Coldplay concert. I had never seen such an enormous complex built mainly for sport events. Also its not correct to compare to my home country because the population here is different by tens of millions of people.
I found that in America everybody I met was super friendly and open. People tend to give compliments on streets or on trains just to express their opinion. It’s much easier here to start conversations with strangers and find new fantastic addition to your friend group.
I have been in the United States for four months now, and I can truly say that I have become more open minded and accepting of different nationalities and their cultural background. I didn’t always have this before because my home country is not very diverse, I would guess only 5-8 nationalities living there. Here in U.S. it’s the opposite, especially New York. There are so many communities and international people. It’s always a big honor to meet new people and listen to their story about how they ended up in U.S. and what life they have now. I really hope that my story will inspire other young people to try this program.
I had several reasons for coming to the U.S. Mostly it’s in my character: I’m a person who cannot sit in place for long, and I love challenging myself. I love living out of my comfort zone and this feeling keeps me going. Since I was a little kid I have always wanted to spend time in the U.S., especially to New York, and try my luck here. The rest is history and I can truly say that every single day I have to pinch myself to believe that I’m really living my dream now. And I can only say that I love it and enjoy it very very much.
I feel very lucky to be working in my field, clothing manufacturing and fashion industry management. People I meet at my work are remarkably inspiring. I see how hard they work and how much they sacrifice to succeed. This feeling and the environment pushes me every day to be better person and never give up on my own dreams.
My main goal when I come back is to inspire people, mostly young professionals. So many young people are scared to try this opportunity, to step out of their usual work/study schedule. I want to be an ambassador and give public speeches at universities and schools sharing my experience and the intellectual growth of my journey in the United States.
What I would say to other students in my home country is, just apply! This experience will change your life for the better.