Living the American Dream 

I’m often asked why I decided to move to America. I was born in the UK to immigrant parents, studied at Oxford which is the epitome of the British ‘establishment’ and had many good job offers. Why pack up and leave to move to a country without my family, where there’s no universal healthcare and even greater political polarization? After two years, the best way I’ve found to sum up why I moved to America is this…

In America, there’s no floor and there’s no ceiling. The reason I moved to America was precisely because there’s no ceiling. You can dream of building rockets and find access to talent and capital to do so. In fact, the most famous entrepreneur of our generation, Elon Musk, left South Africa to live his American dream, famously saying on his success: “America is the land of opportunity – there is no other country where I could have done [building SpaceX, Tesla and The Boring Company] this”. 

To people around the world, America represents freedom. America is a beacon of hope – a place where ambition, relentless optimism and a thriving culture of experimentation all exist to advance progress. Living in America was, and continues to be, a great privilege. It’s easy to take for granted the opportunities afforded here, especially the flow of capital to innovation. It’s easy to forget that America is driving technology forward and is home to the greatest technology companies in the world. 

The negative side to that picture is that America is an exceptionally difficult place for the less fortunate. The lack of social safety net is viscerally apparent in my hometown of San Francisco. This requires a whole piece in it’s own right but I will say that I’ve witnessed greater poverty in the US than many other countries across the world. 

As a foreigner, choosing to live in America is a continuous fight. The immigration process is a gruelling one – financially, emotionally and intellectually. I’ve spent hundreds of hours online, from reddit forums to legal sites, trying to navigate this mind maze. After two years, it’s still not over for me. As a result, I’ve continuously ended up questioning my decision to stay. And it seems I’m not alone – “the reverse brain drain” is a growing phenomenon for immigrants, including many technically gifted Indian immigrants, choosing to leave America frustrated with uncertainty over immigration policy. 

And the increasing pessimism from inside the tech industry about America’s ability to the future is worrying. If American leaders no longer believe in America then who will? 

One of the most fascinating things about America is that it mixes people from different backgrounds and cultures all the time. Even if the process of getting here is hard, once you arrive in America, everyone is able to pursue their own flavour of the American Dream. I believe these fighting immigrants will continue to build back America. 

And if we still believe in America then so can you.