BY: Priyanka Jamenis
Experiencing Our Town:
In The Words of Women Immigrants in Columbus, Indiana
New land, new place, unknown people and a new relationship—few of many questions that hovered in my mind the moment I set foot in the United States. I was married on January 2, 2016, and arrived in Columbus on January 12, 2016. Everything was a blur.
However, the city had other plans for me and I loved the welcome I received. As I stepped out of the Indianapolis airport, I was greeted by snow—how I always wanted to see and feel snow! Being an Indian, everything was new and a marvel for me—the weather, place, house, community, and cars to list a few. From three seasons in India, I was witnessing four seasons in Indiana. Daylight extended beyond 12 hours in the summer to less than 10 hours in the winter. Cars had left-hand drive instead of right like in India, with automatic transmission instead of manual. Houses here are constructed of wood, whereas houses in India were constructed with brick, mortar, and concrete. Everything was different, new and something to learn from.
My nervousness and anxiety were met with the warmth and beauty of Columbus. It didn’t take me long to feel at home and fall in love with this city. The library was my haven away from home. I loved the books, atmosphere, and calm the place exuded. In a couple of visits, I knew I would be visiting the library on a regular basis. It was here that I found my travel companion, the ColumBUS service. The bus service kept me on my toes. I would commute on each route and map the city as I saw it. It gave me the wheels and freedom of movement that I desired since I didn’t have a driver’s license. I explored the city, roads, and places to visit by traveling on ColumBUS.
By the time I had started exploring the city, events like Ethnic Expo, the Farmer’s Market, the Prom parade on Washington Street, and other programs at the Commons kept me engaged. I was never homesick. I also came in touch with the larger Indian community here and enjoyed events like Summer Fest and Ganesh Utsav.
A chance visit to the Columbus Visitors Center gave me both a moral and confidence boost that I needed since my arrival. Lisa Westmark at the Center gladly accepted my query regarding volunteering there. She actively gave me projects to work on and made me feel more confident. I felt a sense of belonging, like being a part of Columbus as I started volunteering. Today, I look forward to various projects, events, and activities that take place in Columbus.
Now I know and feel it in my heart that this is home—miles away from India—Columbus is home.