What is first generation? And why you should care

First generation is when a person was born in a different country than their parents. First generation can be used in different contexts including countries, college education, etc. Read on to learn more about the consequences of being first-gen and why it’s important ❤️.

What is first generation?

Okay dostsss, I realized that I’ve been talking so so much about first gen desis, but I’ve never actually explained or defined it (and that’s pretty important 😅). Dictionary.com defines first generation as…

  1. being the first generation of a family to be born in a particular country.
  2. being a naturalized citizen of a particular country; immigrant: the child of first-generation Americans.

So that makes things a bit clearer. First generation means a person who was born in a country in which their parents immigrated to (aka your parents were born in another country). This applies to so 👏 many 👏 desis reading this now.

For most of you **cough*cough*hi audience!*cough*, many of your parents were born in India/Pakistan/Bangladesh while you were born in the US or UK. This makes you first generation American/British.

But first generation can apply to other things such as being the first generation of your family to go to college (add go to an American university, and you are both first generation in your family in a new country and educational standards). You can also be the first gen to make above a certain income or enter a new career foreign to your family’s business.

So, what is considered first generation? The difference between first generation and immigrants is essentially where you were born. Technically if you were born in the same country as your parents (but moved to another when you were reaaaaaally young), you are not considered first generation. But you will probably still have similar experiences that resemble first gens since you may not have core memories before moving to your “new home.”

What gets a little tricky is the difference between first and second generation. So lets look at the following chart of my actual family tree:

Family Tree explaining first generation versus second generation

What is 1st gen vs 2nd gen?

Okay y’all, let’s break down what is this first generation family. You see how my mom and dad are immigrants (they immigrated to the United States before my brother and I were born). My brother and I are both first generation Americans (because we are both the same generation).

So, what is first gen versus second gen? Well I’m glad you asked dosts. My amazing nieces and nephew (who undeniably are the cutest kids in the world 🥰) are considered 2nd generation (because their parents are first generation Americans). Just in case you were confused about the two 😉.

Why does it matter?

Okay amigos mios, let’s get into some of the good stuff. We’ve talked about what first generation is and the differences between that, being an immigrant/second gen, and being able to be a first gen in education, income, etc.

But why is it so important? Why would I take my valuable time on a saturday to explain what first generation is and why should you know if you are one?

Well dosts, it’s because being a first gen comes with different challenges than a non-first gen would. And it’s important to understand and know those challenges before hand so you can face them head on or at least know what you’re up against.

Let me give you a quick example. A first generation’s parents may not know the language of their country very well (since they immigrated), which would cause more of a responsibility on the child to translate in a variety of situations (again, this is a hypothetical!). Or another example is if a first gen’s parents are unfamiliar with the new country’s culture or education system. This can provide some serious hurdles in growing up and provides lots of opportunities for miscommunication between parents and children.

But remember, being first gen can be a beautiful thing if one learns how to appreciate it ❤️.

Signing off with peace and a light sweater since it’s cold in this coffee shop,


Psssst, I’d like to point out and reiterate that I am not a mental health professional and this is not a form of therapy. These posts are based on my experiences and helped me in my journey. There are local websites available for professional mental health services.

PS: If you want more minority related content, check out my blog post on the importance of minorities celebrating their holidays here!


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