Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Life as an Immigrant in Fairfax County

Fairfax County is one of the most diverse locations in the country.
Its residents come from every continent on Earth except Antarctica. A morning walk to drop off your child at school can put you within earshot of the more than hundred different languages spoken in Fairfax County (more than a third of the population speaks a language other than English at home). The student body in Fairfax County Public Schools comes from more than 150 countries, a veritable United Nations. A leisurely drive around the county brings home the diversity of its populace in more ways than one.
But what is life like as a new immigrant?
[I]f there is one thing that defines the immigrant experience, particularly in the first few days, weeks and months in this country, it is the near-constant state of exploration and discovery — everything from the mundane question of how to turn on a shower to the infinitely more complicated problems of learning how to drive, obtain utilities connections, school admissions, drivers’ licenses, insurance policies, find doctors, find the right place of worship and build networks.
More in the first of three essays on diversity in Fairfax County and life as an immigrant in Coming to America - The First Days.