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The Things They Carried: The Immigrant Experience, Yesterday and Today

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Holy smokes, 20% of the world's immigrants migrate to America?!

Between 1860 and 1920, the immigrant share of the US population was about 15 percent. Due to changes in admission rules adopted by Congress in 1965, the number of US immigrants more than quadrupled—from 9.6 million in 1970 to 41.3 million in 2013.

Today, the United States and its much-touted American Dream still attracts about 20 percent of the world’s international migrants: It’s why the United States is colloquially known as the land of milk and honey. Around the world, the idea of moving stateside is tantamount to having a better life. (In 2013, immigrants accounted for 13 percent of the 316 million US residents.)

But that doesn’t always mean the adjustment is easy: In this Ask Reddit post, immigrants talked about the biggest culture shock they experienced when moving to America. We spoke with them about why they moved, how they assimilated as immigrants, and what they’ve learned from leaving home behind.

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