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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger—an immigrant’s journey to a new life

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Jiaxin Lu, journalism major, has further developed her strength and resilience during her transition into United States culture. Phoenix Kanada | Photo Editor | [email protected]

What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger—an immigrant’s journey to a new life

“She’s not even my daughter.”

I couldn’t hold my tears anymore. I wrapped myself up in my cozy pajamas, lying down on the cold, hard, wood floor in a bedroom that didn’t belong to me.


The summer of 2015 in the south of China was especially hot and humid, and it allowed me to dress in as little as community standards allowed. Unlike the long, melting summers, the days between winter and spring were always cold for me. There’s a slang phrase on the street: “Dress up or die.” But even on cold, near-spring days, I dressed up every day and strutted out of my dorm to class. I was a sophomore pursuing my bachelor’s degree at Guangdong University of Science and Technology in China. I was the youngest daughter in my well-off family, but I never admitted that I was the spoiled one. I asked my father for money every month. I was a typical financially comfortable girl, though I didn’t even earn money myself.

This was my daily routine—getting up very late, putting on my expensive clothes, rushing out of the dorm where I lived with five other roommates, buying brunch in the school cafeteria and sneaking into the classroom, sometimes having a fight with roommates over who was going to take out the trash, and being stared at by guys if I spent extra time on my clothes and makeup.

In June 2015, I started to help my mother translate a document sent by the United States Embassy for our immigration. I didn’t even ask my mother why we had to come to the U.S. Maybe for my mom, it was a family reunion with her parents, brothers and sisters. But for me, it was a separation from my father, brother and sister. Since my oldest uncle had lived in the U.S. for three decades and raised a few children who earned doctoral degrees, my family and relatives thought every Chinese immigrant in the US lived tremendously well.

I quit the university that I had poured a lot of effort into just a few years earlier. I said goodbye to my friends, and stepped on the airplane that took me to San Francisco.

“I gripped the one-way ticket in my fist, wondering what my future would be like.”

July 20, 2015, was a hot, melting day. After spending 13 hours on the airplane that flew across the Pacific Ocean from China to California, my mother and I were exhausted, waiting for my uncle to pick us up in Oakland. As soon as we arrived at my uncle’s house, he disappeared for work. His wife Abby made dinner for us.

While we were having dinner in the dining room, my 7-year-old cousin Jaden stepped in the dining room with just one foot and hid half of his body outside the door, boldly asking, “Mom, when do they leave?” I was glad that my mother didn’t understand any English, so her feelings wouldn’t be hurt. However, Aunt Abby translated what he said to my mother without a second thought.

Mom burst out laughing: “Oh, my dear baby Jaden, your aunt just got here!” Lowering her head to have more rice, her eyes blazed. My heart sank.

After living in Oakland for four days with my uncle and aunt and having a few fights with my little cousins, my mother and I moved to Aunt May’s house in Sacramento. May was my mother’s younger sister, my dearest aunt and relative, a woman in a hot pink dress, dark-complexioned and short. She and my little cousins, 5-year-old Jessica and 4-year-old Jason, surrounded us when we arrived. May had lived with my family for a few years when I was just learning to talk. She invited us to her house in Sacramento, claiming that she would treat us as we treated her.

Years of rough orden 50mg viagra sex and masturbation can lead to cumulative damage to the roadmap of vessels and capillaries that supply the manhood with blood, and the passage of a bougie smeared with a mercurial ointment upon the mucous membrane of the urethra. Immediately visit your doctor and get a checkup done to identify the core symptom that is causing you ED. tadalafil generic 20mg You should take a kamagra tablet at least half an hour before a sexual activity in order to function properly. 5mg cialis tablets This is because large number cialis prices in australia of people is turning their eyes towards herbal treatments in stead of surgical or chemical based treatments to cure the disorders on time. May was a good cook and worshipped white American culture. She chose not to teach her children to speak Chinese, even though she spoke little English herself. My mother and I were often served American macaroni with a thick pile of tomato sauce over it when I really wanted a bowl of steamed rice with kung pao chicken.

We lived with Aunt May’s family for two months. Every night, Jessica brought her preschool homework to the bedroom I stayed in and asked me to help and read out loud for her. She enjoyed listening to me read and sometimes corrected my pronunciation. My mother got a job as a caretaker for a senior citizen in West Sacramento. She left me at May’s house where I started to surf the internet and get some information from my cousins with doctoral degrees. Ultimately, I found out that there was no way for me to get back to the school life that I used to have. Plus, I felt I was living like an illegal immigrant, although I was a legal immigrant who had everything documented but lack of steady income. Still, I didn’t skip a night reading with Jessica and helping her with homework while I was waiting for an ESL class in an education institution to open. I realized I wasn’t a financially comfortable girl anymore. And because I didn’t have a job, May labeled me “lazy” and pretended to be unaware that I helped her child with homework every night. She said that I was not “children-loving.” She did everything to get me out of her house, her promise to us forgotten.

One afternoon in September, the sunlight shined down on the wooden floor and warmed the house. Children were running and screaming around the house. May’s phone rang, and she yelled at the phone: “Why do I need to take care of her? She’s not even my daughter. I have my own family to take care of.”

I gave up waiting for my free ESL class and jumped right into a job. I moved out of May’s house, smiling and waving goodbye to her and Jessica but thinking, bitterly in my heart, “Dang, I am finally getting out of somewhere I don’t belong.”

While waiting for my one-year California residency to apply for financial aid to go to community college, I got a job as a receptionist in a massage parlor. This was when I started to connect with American culture. 10 out of 10 people who thought they knew Asian culture well bowed to me as a greeting, but people who really knew something were aware that the Chinese don’t bow in casual situations.

People laughed at how I pronounced my name. People asked why I didn’t change my name to an American one to better fit in, and I said, “Why do I need to change something that makes me special?” Sometimes I got tipped for just being a young woman who worked at the front desk. Young men were always curious about my life as an immigrant, and I explained, “It’s just gotten started.”

After a year of working and living with colleagues, I had finally saved enough money to rent a two-bedroom house and apply for financial aid at Sacramento City College. I live with my mother, and I go to City College to continue pursuing an academic degree with dignity.

Now I am a freshman again in a different nation. I still wake up late, throw on clothes that make me look polished, quickly make myself a brunch and drive to school early, trying not to be late to class. I talk to classmates in my try-not-to-be-nervous tone. I am still a college student and the youngest daughter in my family. What’s different is that I am able to support myself financially and emotionally.

I am a resilient person, but it’s impossible for me to erase the bad memories from my mind. Every person I have gotten along with and everything I have encountered has taught me how to be a better grown-up. In China or the United States, no matter where I live, I will be stronger than before.



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