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Even after six years, making a home out of Europe is still an exercise in optimism

Immigrants are often reminded that we can leave our new countries if we take issue with local customs—but what if we really want to belong?

By Nathan Ma  

I left to escape a crumbling American dream, but then found it hard to join the European one. Photo Prospect composite

As a young American living in Berlin, planning for the future is an exercise in optimism. My first visa was rejected three weeks after my 20th birthday; years later, valid visa in tow, I was rejected a second time while applying to renew it. It was fine, I assured myself as I left my appointment with a temporary permit, which at least granted me an extension of my stay…

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