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
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  • Chandrawattie B.
    2 days

    U are A shining example, God bless my dear!!

  • Harvijay S.
    4 days

    Very nicely put. I assume almost everyone who migrates here has to go through this phase of lacking the ‘cultural vocabulary’ to participate in the conversations effectively.

  • Laca L.
    12/01/2019 16:51

    Talk about values and life and terrorism but came from India did you mention Kashmir ??? So nice sell out !!!

  • Surinder K.
    11/27/2019 13:06

    Very nice u r so brave stay blessed

  • Sarfraz A.
    11/27/2019 01:18

    So true. I had the same story .So much sacrifice we all made just to make a better living for ourselves and our families.

  • Pooja M.
    11/25/2019 21:53

    You reminded me of my first days...I moved to Boston in 2001, a few weeks before 9/ a school as well...such similar experiences...happy that you made your life ‘extraordinary’ as well👏🏼👏🏼

  • Alka P.
    11/23/2019 09:42


  • Sanjay M.
    11/22/2019 16:47

    Amazing.. good to learn about your early days in the US. Good narrative.. :)

  • Avinash K.
    11/22/2019 03:54

    That's a awesome surprise jinal chechi, I'm a regular viewer of Brut videos, never expected to see someone I know personally being featured in the show.👏👏 mind blown!!

  • RedOne D.
    11/21/2019 21:28

    Lucky people in America from India

  • Rithesh M.
    11/21/2019 19:29


  • Niky K.
    11/21/2019 18:05

    This is just Wow!!!!! 🤗🤗🤗Commendabhah!! Pat your back. Prouda you!! 👏🏻👏🏻

  • Malathi S.
    11/21/2019 15:38

    Wooow Jinal❤️👏👏👏

  • Sabiha F.
    11/21/2019 10:13

    ..... So good to see you .... Really proud

  • Alpa G.
    11/21/2019 06:36

    Seen you grow from your first day at nursery to your journey to New York and I am so happy and proud of you 😘❤️

  • Savita S.
    11/21/2019 01:39

    Wow sweetu so proud of you.

  • Brut
    11/20/2019 16:44

    "See the bench over there? So for two-and-a-half days, I [slept] over there." Hakki Akdeniz moved to New York City from Turkey in 2001, broke and homeless. He's now an award-winning chef and owns a popular pizza chain. This is how he lived on his first day in America.

  • Eser G.
    11/20/2019 15:01

    Unfortunately, “ go back to your country” is a very serious epidemic in US and you will hear this from almost everybody. If not everyone, great majority of the population uses this. Luckily, that generation will soon disappear and new generation in US is much more educated and integrated with the rest of the world

  • Munir A.
    11/20/2019 14:48

    I. Like u

  • R C.
    11/20/2019 12:07

    Very nice