Why not Change?
These days, technology is the most efficient approach to the world. People spend most of their time using media, watching movies, searching for new places and new adventures. Many young adults are affected by what they watch and movies give them a false impression of how a perfect life should be. I include myself when is say this. I always wanted to live the perfect life I used to watch in the Hollywood movies: going to a good school with a comfortable environment, hanging out with international students and becoming fluent in English. I used to watch English movies on a variety of topics. Sometimes I would watch movies that depicted foreigners immigrating to America and adopting to the new culture very easily and lead a happy life. I thought it would be the same easy for me as well. I never believed that living at my home town in Saudi Arabia is ever going to provide me with an opportunity to interact with international students and learn to speak fluent English.
I was raised at a home where daily life was in a fixed pattern. I used to complain a lot about my boring routine. I wanted to do something new and peculiar. School and home was where I spent most of my time. I knew nothing about the outside world. I used to think and try to figure out if other people’s lives were the same as mine or not. One day I walked in to my dad’s room.
“Dad, why do people study abroad, to have a perfect life as I have seen in Hollywood movies?” I said.
“What do you mean by studying abroad?”
“I mean people go to another country to study.”
“You have a misconception of the word ‘abroad’, he said. “You should read more to be more aware of the life abroad.”
My father realized that my obsession with Hollywood movies had a strong impact on me and he said, “Do not believe everything you see in the movies, everything you see is not always supposed to be true.”
I listened to him silently and then left to watch a movie that had been recommended by my friend.
When I was in eleventh grade, my twin sisters finished high school. My brother decided to study abroad to complete his bachelor’s degree. My sister was doing her best to go with him. My parents decided that either the whole family would go together or we would all stay back home. For me, that was the best decision my parents ever made. They had wanted me to finish my high school first and then plan to abroad but now they were ready to take me abroad with all other family members. All of the sudden, I was so excited to fly away, to start a new life, to live a perfect life just like what I had seen in the movies. I was not sure how exactly the life would be like. For example, which school was I going to attend? Which city were we going to live in? How was I going to continue my studies with a limited English?
While the whole family was discussing this important decision, I spent my time searching for an appropriate school. As a starter, I thought it would be a good idea to study in a school that had native Arabic instructors. This way I will be able to familiarize myself to the new environment. One day I walked to my parents with an excited face,
“Mom and dad, I found a convenient school, it is called Islamic Saudi Academy, where there are Arabic subjects and native Arabic instructors,” I said.
“Are you sure that is what you want?” they asked.
They were sure that I did not like to study in a Saudi school as I had always been curious of a school with an international environment. I explained to them that after I have familiarized myself to the new environment, I would try to go to a better school with international students. After much convincing, my parents took my deep desire seriously and tried to help me to achieve my dream. They both started to look over the school website and tried to contact the school many times, to gain more information about the school. Eventually, they agreed to send me to Islamic Saudi Academy and started to fill out my application.
When I first arrived in the United States, it was a cultural shock for me. I had not realized how my life would be. The traffic, hospital, police, social services, educational and all other systems were totally different. All I wanted to do was study in a good university that would help me to achieve my goals. When things became real, I was lost. I have never imagined my life would look like how it is now. The first day I went to the private high school, it was a Saudi school yet it did not feel like a Saudi environment; I felt like I was on a different planet. I felt like the students and I did not have much in common, despite our shared nationality. Most of these students were living in America for a long time and they had adopted to the American cultural values. I found it hard to make friends with them as they had totally different personalities than me. I thought it would be impossible for me to adopt to the new environment and I was really thinking of dropping out of the school. All of a sudden, all my dreams faded; I thought my life was over. I wished I was dreaming, it was a nightmare and I would suddenly wake up. I missed my friends and my cousins. I kept remembering what they believed to be true about life abroad. They had told me not to go abroad as it might not be as fun as I thought it would be. They were right and I was wrong. I had to be away from them for seven years. I wished it would pass just like 7 days but that was a wish that would not come true.
“It is going to be fine. It is all a matter of time,” my mom said.
“It is never going to be ok, I will never adapt to the new society,” I said.
“ How are the students in your school living? It is not impossible for you!”
“They did not live my life before. Most of them have come to live in this country since their childhood. If they were new to this environment, they wouldn’t accept it just like me. “
“So you want to convince me that none of the students in your school have gone through obstacles before getting used to the new society?” she asked.
“Of course not.” I said firmly.
Eventually, my mom transferred me to a public school to see how it would work out there.
At first, it was difficult for me to adapt to the new school environment
“Could you please help me to get to my class?” I used to repeat this statement for almost a month and request other students from my class to direct me to the class. I found it hard to find different class rooms for different classes in a new school environment.
I started to study in the ESOL program with other international students. I felt like we all were on the same page. We used to talk in English even though our English was so simple. I made some friends and we used to hang out together, and the most exciting thing was that we could easily understand each other. It was a beneficial place and a good experience to study in a public school. At least my English was improving. Back in the Arabic academy it was hard for me to understand the English accent of the students as they were in America since childhood. Their accent was just like the Native Americans.
One day, in 20XX, I went to my advisor and asked him,” how long will it be before I graduate?”
He said, “It depends. You should pass the ESOL program and take the four required American English classes to graduate.”
“Give me a predictable year to graduate please.”
“I cannot promise you, but it might take you until 2015.”
“2015! Are you kidding me?”
It sounded a way longer than 2015
My parents gave me the choice whether to stay at the public school or to move back to the Saudi School. I was struggling with the decision. It was the hardest decision I had to make. I wanted to graduate on time; on the other hand, I did not want to enter that school ever again. Eventually, I decided to go back to the Saudi school for the graduation reason.
I entered the school and started to focus more on my studies rather than its environment. I used to attend regularly without skipping any class; my whole only goal was to get good grades so I could graduate on time.
Day after day, I adapted to the society and I was living peacefully. I tried my best to make friends with the students. I worked on myself and tried to change my attitude towards these students whom I thought were arrogant in the first place. They were actually very nice people. The only problem I had was the communication gap that was produced by their American accent. Even the other students were surprised by how much I had changed. They asked me, what changed my mind to not head back home? I could speak to the teachers in Arabic to better understand my course material. I realized that it was the public school that had changed me a lot in a way to accept everything even though it did not suit my desires to graduate earlier than the Saudi school. I had become an easygoing person.