My First Day in America - Episode 2: Jinal

"The first thought that crossed my mind was if I had to die, I wished I was back home with my family." Jinal moved to Philadelphia from India in 2001 — just weeks before 9/11. This is how she lived on her first day in America.

‘I don't want an ordinary life’

Hi, I'm Jinal Shah. I came to Temple University in 2001 from India as a student. My first day in America is now a blur. I can’t remember much other than being very, very sad and overwhelmed, and overcome with emotion. I think that's when it first hit me after I landed here, what I'd actually done, that I'd left everything I knew behind. I came here a few weeks before 9/11. My semester had just started. I was in my dorm room with my roommate and we had the TV on. And I think we were both catatonic. My roommate, I remember, kept repeating, “Someone just crashed into the Twin Towers. Someone just crashed into the Twin Towers.” And then there were rumors. We heard there was a plane headed towards Pennsylvania, you hear things. No one knew what was going on in those moments right after.

I remember the first thought that crossed my mind was if I had to die, I wished I was back home with my family. I didn't want to die so far away from them. A couple weeks after 9/11, my friend and I were walking on campus and someone just rolled down the window of their car and yelled at us saying, "Go back to your own country." That was a little, like, shocking. And we knew it wasn't me. You know it's not you as Jinal or my friend. But we also knew it was us as two girls who, you know, are brown.

I will always credit a lot of my success to what the city and the people here taught me and what it gave me in terms of the grit that I saw all around me, the determination that my classmates had that rubbed off on me. I always said to myself as an immigrant, I haven't come here to live an ordinary life. I don't want an ordinary life. It has to matter. There is so much sacrifice that has gone into my immigrant story.


11/20/2019 12:47 AM


  • Grace L.
    09/17/2021 22:41

    Thanks for sharing this incredible story ♥️

  • Diana S.
    07/05/2021 18:39

    Thank you

  • Baba K.
    07/04/2021 03:48

    May Allah give you success in business, I pray that Allah bless you and keep your family happy always.

  • Gail S.
    06/28/2021 17:10

    Being from England you'd think I could join conversations easily but not at 14 in high school and back in the 60s I was called "weird". Knowing the slang and saying yeah instead of yes seems silly but made such a difference in how I was seen. People thought I was uppity and a snob because I spoke so correctly and wasn't till a few years before I was more accepted. Not everyone was so skeptical and judging, thankfully I had a few wonderful friends, but when first arriving it is so scary and we see it all as very different too while also feeling so homesick ... I still miss England but have definitely become Americanized. Good for this lady sharing this experience, and glad she stuck with her choice and found her self!

  • Coroseni W.
    04/15/2021 22:16


  • Hlonela H.
    12/31/2020 21:13

    Very nice

  • Rashed S.
    06/21/2020 10:49

    Make. Your. Trip. To. Sydney. Australia. You. Will. Be. As. Aqween. Please. Come

  • Jason L.
    06/12/2020 22:19

    why are Indians afraid of saying they Black.. some bLack people are brown too ..haha

  • Rosita W.
    05/14/2020 06:17

    That did not happen because you are brown but because there are crazy people out there who want to use your skin colour as a portal to do their evil bit. X

  • Dana A.
    04/19/2020 04:50

    You are Amaizing, Very proud of you.

  • Anurag S.
    04/09/2020 20:00

    Shity Brut India !! This admin should be blocked

  • Farzana S.
    12/31/2019 21:11

    Awesome story

  • Rajesh G.
    12/30/2019 21:18

    Good luck in Fisher

  • Shanti P.
    12/30/2019 04:59

    Hi how are you I have seen you and your story I have foran student I have more room for students but I live Oregon if you have a intrested move in Oregon let me know

  • Kanchi S.
    12/18/2019 09:17

    What was that 🤨🤨

  • Dilip-Jagruti P.
    12/16/2019 11:01


  • Kirit S.
    12/16/2019 07:51


  • Rachhpal J.
    12/16/2019 05:04


  • Sai M.
    12/15/2019 15:30

    I am unable to put finger on what this video is all about. Is she promoting Philadelphia, the US, or herself? 🤔 However please take care.

  • Zizy E.
    12/14/2019 03:42

    The same thing happens in India too. When we move from south to north or east to north . It’s not bad as that in US

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