first impressions

What were your first impressions when you came to the US?

Visitor Voices

  1. Staying in NYC was an old and impossible dream. But I’ve learned how to break stones and now I’m here. I’m a winner, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day everyone can be in every place as dreamed.

    antonio ricardo

  2. When I first came to the US it was a cold day in February.There was snow on the ground. The Statue of Liberty was like in the movies.


  3. My first impression of America and mostly New York City was the huge and exciting and sharing of culture. I really enjoy New York and think that Brooklyn is a big part of it. I always want to live in New York City, it has everything you need to be at home and feel comfortable while also having excitment right outside your front door! My view of America is that it is a proud and worthy country that has the potential to be a smarter and more settled country, with many less problems. My views are adjustable depending on the time and day but my overall thinking is the same. This is my New York City and my views of America.


  4. It was a beautiful sunny day on November 1st, 1948, when we arrived on the Vulcania to New York. There was a whole big commotion and cheering outside on the deck sighting the Statue of Liberty was just an incredible view ! After all the horrors of Europe in Bratislava, now Slovakia, all my father`s dreams and yearnings we finally, came to the land of liberty to a world of opportunity and freedom from oppression.

    Rosalie Josovitz Miller

  5. Mom was born when Grandpa declined to rejoin the Russian army. My uncle was conceived on board (they had a cabin, hardly arme leuten). Baby sister was totally American.

    Just after the 6day war, meeting the cousins who were NOT allowed into the US, I was on a boat entering Haifa bay in the AM. It was a glorious feeling (inspection was a lot milder than nowadays)

    But the Statue and lamp; Emma Lazarus’ New Colossus’ is still a dream.


  6. My first impression of America was horrifying. People would throw stones at me as if I was the devil. I thought America would have streets paved in gold and that it would be like heaven but boy, was I wrong. I remember feeling so excited to A) to leave the disgusting boat and B) to finally be free, but at what cost was it to be free? I was confused and didn’t know whether to be thankful or scared. Today I live everyday thinking, did I make the right move?


  7. Next to my health the most important commodity I have was my newly found freedom after Auschwitz, I was born in Hungary and emigrated to the 1946. God Bless America
    Magda Brown, Skokie, Illinois

    Magda Brown

  8. Next to my health, the most important commodity I have is my newly found freedom after Auschwitz. God Bless America.

    Magda Brown, Skokie, Illinois

  9. I from dominican republic and this is my first year in United States (2010). I was living in Barcelona, Spain but I like it more here!!:)

    dominicanrap, Arrived US 2010

  10. HEY!!! I wish to be in America forever!!! WOOP WOOP The Statue of Liberty is a great image for me. Thats where people arrived, anyways. AMERICA!!!!


  11. I was lucky enough to be born in this country but looking out over this view seeing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is to look into my past. My great grandparents came here from Sweden, Germany and Italy. Seeing this view gives me my pride that I am an American and that Liberty and freedom were given to me at birth being born here. I must thank my ancestors for coming here and allowing me to be an American. I respect and feel very solemn looking out, thinking of their footsteps crossing into Ellis Island and long journey and hard decision it was for them to leave. The welcoming arms of Lady Liberty have been here to accept many immigrants coming to pursue a new life just as my ancestors did. This is in honor of my great grandparents whom I have never met who came to America, without them I would not be a proud citizen of this country today.


  12. I came to live in New York from Montreal, Canada in 1969. I had been to New York before and I had always wanted to live here and be an American. When I met and married a New Yorker, I was filled with such excitement to begin my new life in America! It was a dream come true! Although the people and the neighborhoods in both countries were quite similar, I was astounded at the appearance of garbage on the sidewalks before it was routinely collected by the garbage trucks. In Canada, there were lanes behind the buildings to pick up the trash. As I made my life in this new country, I began to feel a kindredship with my adopted land and wanted to become a citizen as soon as I could. The garbage issue became second nature to my new life, and I couln’t wait to take part in all the privileges this country had in store for me. Voting in my first presidential election was a mind-blowing experience, but I had not firmly established my political persuasion until much later on. As I look back on the past 41 years, I must say that I feel like I was always an American. I couldn’t live anywhere else in the world!

    Joyce Amato, Montreal, Canada, Arrived US 1969

  13. My first impression of America was WOW! Now I’m here at last! I was dieing to eat Reeses, which I had tried recently at home. My first Reeses were from a newsstand and I was quite disappointed since they tasted very old. But the next time I ate Reeses-a delight.


  14. We came from Poland to the U.S. Our first impression was, it was like what we thought it would be. It took us awile to fit it. But we were accepted. We were one of the lucky ones.


  15. I was born here in the United States-this exhibit is great as I have always been told that history will only continue as long as we
    remember our past history. As Jews we must continue to tell our oral history from generation to generation Dor L Dor.

    Marci Sage
    Newton, Mass

    Marci Mindick Sage

  16. First time I came visiting to NY, in 2001, I thought there were no cats or dogs in this city, because in my country they are running in the streets without any restrictions. So, I went to my friends’ house in Jersey, where I was staying, and I called my Mom and I said “Mom, this city is beautiful and amazing, but you know what?…There are not cats or dogs here!” I felt so silly when my friends explained to me that they are not allowed to be in the streets and they are so loved by their owners!

    Sara Martinez, Guayaquil, Ecuador, Arrived US 2005

  17. As a first generation American I have totally different feelings here. Both my parents arrived, as children, from Poland and Russia, but I feel fully connected to all immigrants being at this location. The views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty conjure up all the stories they told, as well as those of others. This is a thrilling place to renew my heritage.

    Harvey Appelbaum

  18. I just came to the United States about 70 days ago. My first impression: fantastic! I came here through a program including a 5 months English course and a 1 year internship in America. I feel very happy to come to NY for my first visit in here. I am excited to experience what will happen in here and I forever thank my parents, who gave this opportunity to me. I love NY!

    SEONGJIN KIM, Arrived US 2009

  19. The first snow fall in America made me run out into the street in my pajamas. My mother came running after me yelling “vie geist de” (where are you going)? I yelled back “is falt tziker fin himmel” (sugar is falling from the sky). She let me go and we both giggled as we realized sugar was left for bags and not from heaven.

    Celia Rapp

  20. From previous trips to the US, I knew that everything was BIG. The bridges and tunnels and highways met my expectations of America.

    My first impression when I came was that most immigrants today keep their culture. Me, as a “Sabra” (a girl that was born and raised in Israel) especially wanted to preserve my culture and I have succeeded.

    Dganit Katz-Yefet, Rehovot, Israel, Arrived US 1985

  21. Standing in line is not a common practice in my home country, Israel. “Survival of the fittest” manifests itself even in these everyday matters. Imagine the struggle to suppress this natural instinct upon my arrival to New York. Penn Station, 1991, the train to Philadelphia will be leaving from track 3. I watch in amusement how a long and orderly line of passengers slowly and patiently descends to track 3 while the empty staircase to track 4 could safely bring them to their destination, as both tracks face each other on the same platform.

    Since my arrival in 1991 I got used to saying “please” and “thank you”, but I have always been looking for that empty staircase.

    Maya Kopytman, Tel-Aviv, Israel, Arrived 1991.

  22. Our first impression of the United States was that it was much like what we thought it would be like. Our beginning here was difficult; my husband got a job as a tailor in Brooklyn. We lived in Washington Heights in a room in someone else’s apartment, and I through Selfhelp got a job in assembly. However, after awhile we got better jobs and were able to fit in, since we moved to Queens and had no contact with other recent immigrants. I remember, looking around my own first apartment in October 1956, this is it. I like it, and I shall never move again. I did remain there for 42 years, it was home for me and my family.

    Gisela Adamski, Oppeln, Germany, Arrived US 1956

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