November 9, 2020

My First Voting Experience

 Yoooooooooooo, did I really forget to announce that I became a US citizen in January of this year here?!?!? UGH! Instagram gets all the announcements and I know I'm the one that forgets to come here and post, but still!!! I'm so sorry everyone. And tomorrow, I'll be there wondering, "What should I post on the blog?" Ndo o. Mi dispiace!

Anyway, in January of this year, 22.5 years after I came to this country, I was sworn in as a naturalized American citizen. TWENTY-TWO AND A HALF YEARS! Over 2 decades, yes! I realize it's not the typical story, as it takes a shorter amount of time for other people. Let's just say that I am an extremely patient person. I came to the US when I was 15 right after completing secondary school, and was here on a student visa. After my first degree, I was granted OPT (Optional Practical Training) for one year to work. When I completed that year, I decided to go back to school for my MBA and was able to extend or renew or reapply (I can't remember which it was) for a student visa. After I graduated, I was sponsored for a work visa by the company I worked for at the time. They were willing to apply for permanent residency for me, but then I decided to move back to Nigeria. Before that time though, my mum who had a green card had already applied for residency for me - we were given a time frame of 7 to 10 years because I was over 21 when she applied. Thankfully, it took 7 years and I was granted residency in 2014. In the US, you need to maintain your residency for 5 years before you can apply for citizenship (it's 3 years if you're married to a US citizen), and finally... 22 years after I landed here, I applied for my citizenship, took the exam, passed my interview and a few months later, had my naturalization ceremony!

One of the things I most looked forward to was getting to vote in the elections this year! For the presidential election, I was so excited I decided to do a mail-in ballot because I couldn't wait until November 3rd to go to my polling station. Well, after a week and a half, mine hadn't come in the mail but I was determined to cast my vote before election day. Luckily in Georgia, early voting started in October. Since there were two centers close to my house, I decided to go one random morning and voted early. They saw that I had asked for a mail-in ballot and I had to sign a document that canceled that process in favor of in-person voting. It took about 35 minutes from parking my car to driving out of the parking lot and I felt very accomplished and maybe even like a grown up (yes, at my big age I still feel very child-like). 

I can say I was very glad to be able to vote and I look forward to this civic duty in further elections. The other big draw of being a US citizen has been the travel power ranking of the blue passport. Alas, because of madam rona the blue passport is only allowed in these countries right now - and some of them require a two-week quarantine upon entry, so what's the point?

Oh yes, and this was the first time I ever voted in a national election - I never did in Nigeria but I hope I'll be able to cast one in 2023 if permitted. 


I'd love to hear from you about this post! Let's all learn and share our worlds.