Posts Tagged ‘Ellis Island’

Brave New World?

June 21, 2010

by Amy McLeod
June 20, 2010

America is the land of opportunity, right?

Yeah…prove it.

I can guarantee you that if I had recently immigrated to the United States and found myself in the middle of Manhattan, those old adages would do little to comfort me.

As I step out of Penn Station and look around me, I am completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of the city.  I mean, I knew it was big, but this is just ridiculous.

With little money and even less experience in this city, I honestly have no idea where to begin.  I suppose that I would do as much research as I could and I would go around to small, local businesses.  I would seek out people with whom I can communicate and who are willing to help me get my feet on the ground.  I would desperately need to establish some sort of support system for myself.

I would probably be a craigslist.com expert, using this tool to find a roommate, a cheap apartment and simple jobs such as dog walking.

I would attempt to work several jobs, doing everything I could to become familiar with the city.  I would also enroll in night classes specifically for the purpose of learning English, but also to expand my knowledge in business and communications.  These are two prominent industries in NYC and knowledge in them would be a huge help in the job market.

Ultimately, I can’t even begin to imagine how overwhelmed I would be if this scenario weren’t completely hypothetical.  Even as an educated, English-speaking, capable young woman, this city can be extremely intimidating.

Though I can’t imagine ever going to a place when I have no roots and no connections, I definitely think it would have been a much easier task in the early 1900s.   The whole city was made up of immigrants and there were jobs galore.  It was easy to find people who could relate to you and who were willing to help you. They have all been in your position.

Stepping off the boat onto Ellis Island would bring with it some of the same feelings as stepping out of Penn Station.  However, with the way New York City operates today, with the fast-paced, cut-throat nature of it all, I think I would have much preferred to be arriving about 100 years earlier.

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