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The Five Stages of Immigration

“I am from there. I am from here.

I am not there and I am not here.

I have two names, which meet and part,

and I have two languages.

I forget which of them I dream in.”

Mahmoud Darwish

Immigration is a bizarre experience. You uproot every aspect of your current life and try to plant the same tree on different soil. Unlike travelling or even studying abroad, you do not get the luxury to fully appreciate the new scenery upon arrival.

First, you probably have a lot of baggage. Second, you face a whole slew of problems – the million arrangements you have to make when you try to settle into a new place; for example, school registration, rent, living arrangements, etc. (If you are a kid, this part will be easier for you since the adults will be taking care of most things.) Then, when you finally get to the end of your problems and try to sink your roots in, waves of emotional turmoil hit you… and the tree will never be the same again.

I’ve had two immigration experiences in my life so far: the first time at 9 years old from Myanmar to Singapore, and the second time at 16 years old from Singapore to the US. Both experiences have deeply affected me as a person, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this topic of immigration.

And I realized that the immigration process could be broken down into five stages, just like the five stages of grief:


The Five Stages of Immigration