Immigration Oral History Project:
Mr. Darren Holgate, American Immigrant
Why did people immigrate?
Sometimes people immigrate to join their loved ones in the new land. They also immigrate for good employment opportunities. A better job would lead to better living conditions.
What was their life like in their old countries?
Mr. Holgate had a very happy life in England. He had friends, and family. He had a house, a car, and a job that treated him well. The only reason he came to America was for a better job opportunity and to be closer to a loved one.
What was your journey to America like?
First time I came over was in 1997. Easy trip by plane. London direct to JFK, New York City. I came that time for a summer camp only. In 2005 I came to America permanently. This time was more difficult because they restricted us to two suitcases only. Rather difficult to fit all your belongings into two suitcases!
What were your first impressions of America like?
First time that I came over I was 19 years old (1997). It was the first time that I was that far away from home. I felt a bit homesick at first. I remember when we landed at JFK the strong smell of air conditioning. You could feel it, taste it immediately on arrival. Very different smell from England. I also remember being surrounded by tall buildings in NYC. I felt so small. I also remember all the sirens and noise about the city. It reminded me of the movies.
How did you assimilate yet maintain what is important from England?
The most important thing for me was to speak my language in a way that Americans could understand. Even though our language is the same, we have different meanings for certain words. For example I would say bin instead of trashcan or boot instead of trunk. In class it got me into a little trouble sometimes because I did not realize that a word that I could use freely in England had a bad connotation over here. I also had to learn to drive on the opposite side of the road. My clothing had to change when I moved here. Casual wear in England was very different from casual wear here in the US. You do not want to stand out too much when you come to a new country.
When did you come to the United States?
The first time was 1997 for a summer job. In 2005, I came over to the United States permanently.
How old were you when you came over?
I was 27 years old.
Why did you come over to the United States?
I came over for a job opportunity.
Can you tell me anything special you brought with you?
I brought diaries and journals that I have had since I was a teenager. I also brought letters from family and friends. I also bought clothing and my computer.
What did it feel like when you first came to America?
The first time I came I felt a little homesick due to the distance. When I first landed at J.F.K airport I remember the distinct smell of air conditioning. The smell was very different than England. You could feel it, and almost taste this strong smell. I also noticed tall buildings and lots of police sirens in N.Y.C. It seemed like the movies that I have seen of New York.
What do you miss about England?
I miss the special foods like curry, sausage pies, fish and chips, and good rolls. I also miss the ease of transportation in England. It usually takes 10-15 minutes to get from one place to another, due to a great subway system.
What do you like about America?
There is a better standard of living here. The money I earn I can do more with in America. There is more freedom on how to spend money you make here. Also, I like to be on the cutting edge of technology. I also love the hearty meals that I can eat over here (i.e. big portion size).