How do you choose between two positives? How do you choose between the country where you were born, and which you love dearly, and the country that seems to offer endless opportunities – even if only for a limited time.
Do you stay or do you go? Do you choose family and friends or the chance to spread your wings? Do you choose safety and security or do you start over without a guarantee that things will work?
People migrate for many different reasons – some for school, others for work and most for a search for better opportunities. The US is known to most as the land of opportunities. A place where dreams can come through and anything can happen. There are those who migrate, and leave behind nothing but bad memories, poverty and a seemingly purposeless existence.
There are also the barrel babies – those whose parents migrated when they were young kids – and migrate so they can be reunited. Whatever the reason for migrating in the first place, it usually is an important decision.
I’ve known people who migrated as an escape from abusive relationships and others for that vague search of a better life. This article isn’t about the reasons why we leave our gem of an island though. It’s about the people who leave, do what they have to do, gain experiences and then have to make a decision. Should I stay or should I go? It’s never as simple as that but that question is really what it boils down too.
Having resided in the States for approximately six years after my fourteenth birthday, I experienced college, the workforce, the wide variety of entertainment sources, and the shopping (Oh how I loved the shopping). I interacted with many different cultures, learnt Spanish from my Latino neighbour and went to a religious meeting at my Korean classmate’s house. I rode the subway, played in snow and slipped on black ice. I got financial aid for my college tuition, which occasionally covered my school books. I’ve seen a bit of what the US has to offer.
“If I made a permanent move to Trinidad I would be wasting my life”
I was almost nineteen when I was first confronted with the idea of moving back to Trinidad and Tobago. I started feeling homesick, which led to a sort of mild depression. Whenever I got a soca CD I play it loudly, and my behaviour would alternate from whining to crying. When the Soca Warriors were playing their qualifying games leading up to the 2006 World Cup, I’d call home just so I could listen along as my friends watched the game. It was a good time to be Trini and proud. Even the owner of the Jamaican restaurant where I purchased roti and Chubby, sported a red white and black handband and oletalked bout football. I was happy about our achievement, but miserable and devastated that I was not home. The idea to return to Trinidad wormed itself into my mind then, and planted itself securely.
My relatives were unanimous in their position. If I made a permanent move to Trinidad I would be wasting my life.
“You know how many people want a green card, and you just want to throw that away.”
I had so many arguments. I went online and showed them that I could continue college in Trinidad under the Government’s new GATE programme. They took none of my arguments seriously. In the end, I made my decision based on what I wanted. I felt unhappy in the States, and just the thought that I would be back home made me feel whole. My decision was confirmed as the right one the minute my plane landed in Piarco, and a feeling of complete joy permeated my body and made my spirit content.
I based my decision on one factor, my emotional and mental well being. In my mind, the only thing tying me to the States was my green card and I refused to let a tiny thing like that hold power over me. In retrospect, my decision was an immature one, but one that I have, thankfully, not regretted to this day.
For many though, there are other more important elements. A friend of mine resided in the US for five years before moving back home, and now has to decide whether or not to return and pursue a life in the States. Her decision is even harder to make because her family who lived there have decided to move back to Trinidad so if she were to make the move she would be on her own. However, in the face of material benefits and increased opportunities she’d receive abroad, she was still holding her head, bawling about this decision. It’s a very difficult decision to make. The pros are many but she would miss her family, and the wild jubilation of Carnival.
There are many experiences that can only be had in the United States, while there are experiences that only Trinidad and Tobago can offer. Taking advantage of each when given the opportunity is the smart way to go. Changing your location means changing your lifestyle, and, ultimately, deciding the course of your life. Yet, we should always remember that the only constant in life is change and mistakes always result in learning experiences.
Very few things in life are permanent and where you choose to live isn’t one of those permanent things. I should know; I’ve changed homes thirteen times. Find out what’s right for you by measuring both short-term and long-term goals, and figuring out which location can get you where you want to be. If all else fails, remember that home is where the heart is, and when you make the right decision, your heart and mind will be at ease. Peace!