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


  • Hlonela H.
    12/31/2020 21:13

    Very nice

  • KD S.
    07/17/2020 14:16

    This video brought lot of memories back that I can relate to.I can't forget my first day in Australia. You leave everything behind to start a new life. Lot of comment here are negative, that wats this video about. I guess this video is only for people who have been through struggles and hardships to start their life in foreign countries. If you are someone who's still living at home you won't understand importance of this video.

  • 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.

  • Ashish K.
    12/15/2019 06:00


  • 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

  • Smytta Y.
    12/13/2019 03:38

    Total waste. What is the point?I have un followed BRUT INDIA for wasting my time.

  • Pramod P.
    12/12/2019 10:29

    Sum of all, you want to say that Philladelphia is nice place for living 🤔

  • Singh J.
    12/12/2019 02:34


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