I’m from New York, and I’ve pretty much been traveling for 30 years. I lived all over the world from Greenland, to the Republic of Georgia, to the Czech Republic, where I usually work at universities.
I never really considered myself a migrant before. I was an “expatriate” and usually I would be at place for two years and get bored with it and move on. I can move through borders relatively easily, but then something happened. I was in Greenland, but I found it very difficult there, so I went to Norway for a vacation and much to my surprise, I met a man. He is the kindest, nicest and sweetest man I have ever met. Eight months after coming to Norway, we were married.
When people think of migrants they now think of rubber boats, poor drowned children and desperate people trying to cross the border. There are also migrants who can move relatively freely around the world without much hassle and because of your birthright. Being an American, and speaking English as my first language, I can basically go where I want. My country, and my American identity, is built on migration.
Migrants are people that find their happiness, or safety, livelihood or who they are, in other places in the world.
When I got to Norway, I couldn't work and I couldn't travel for six months. I basically felt stateless for six months. It really scared me. I was never in that position before and it humbled me. I had to rely on my husband for financial support, which was devastating. I suffered but am glad I stuck it out. .
What I brought with me are traditions, like Halloween or Thanksgiving, and Valentine's Day. People want those experiences after seeing them through American media. They’re fun traditions to share, and keeps me in touch with my identity.
Being a migrant means you have to focus on what's real, and what your situation is. You can't replace the past.