Martina du Rietz

The ash over Iceland.

I am going to tell you my story of how I became an immigrant to the United States. It all started in 2010, I was invited to NYC by some friends that I met on the French Riviera a couple of years earlier.  In March 2010, I arrived in NYC for the first time. I was going to stay at my friend Dennis's place for 5 days and explore NYC as much as I could in such a short visit.  I loved NYC. It had it all: different cultures, the best music and food scene in the world: things that I really appreciated in life. After 4 days of staying at my friend’s place, we heard on the news about the volcanic eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull, in Iceland. I must say I was happy that the ash spread as much because then I had to stay in NYC.  Of course, I was concerned about all the people that the ash affected and the damage it did, but for me, it was perfect as I couldn’t go back home to Sweden.

At that time, I was working at Swedbank in Stockholm so I called up my boss and said, “I am terribly sorry but I cannot come to work for the next couple of weeks as I am stuck in the US because of the ashes and no aircrafts will fly over Europe.” However, I was smiling inside.

So, what happened was that I stayed in NYC for 4 weeks instead of 5 days and then I was hooked.  Dennis is 17 years older than me; he had an elderly mother who needed a lot of help at that time so I became almost a part of the family. After that, I visited New York many times every year and stayed with Dennis and his family.

After 2 years of traveling back and forward, I met my future husband. We met at a bar in the Meatpacking district.  I was there with a girlfriend who started to talk to him about teaching, as they were both teaching at that time and suddenly he turned around and said to me, “Gosh you smell good. What´s your name?” I pretended I had no interest in speaking to him but then we started to email, Skype and visit each other and we had a long distant relationship for a quite long time. Then my future husband moved to Sweden and we got married. After 6 months, he had to go back to the US and try to get a job as it was hard for him to find work in Sweden. I had to wait in my country for my green card for more than 18 months which was hard.

Now when I am living here I realize how tough it is to live in NYC if you are an immigrant and do not make a lot of money or have someone to support you. For me, everything was a Catch 22: I could not rent an apartment as I didn’t have a bank account and to get a bank account you need an address, to get an address you need a job and to get a job you cannot be homeless. Now, after staying here 6 months, I have managed to rent an apartment, get a bank account and have the fantastic opportunity to go to my classes that I find that are an amazing opportunity for an immigrant. 

In the future, I hope that I can find a job in my field that is coaching/finance HR etc. I also would love to do volunteer work in my school to give back and help other immigrants to do their best.

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