That was my first flight as well as my first international flight. I was traveling with my friends whom I found, or they found me through Facebook as we were admitted to the same university. I had been in a flight once during my childhood, in 90’s maybe. It was during my family trip to Nepal, my first foreign trip 😉 My Dad wanted us to experience the airplane journey. It was 30 min flight from Kathmandu to Janakpur. It was a big deal in those day. I used to tell my friends about it with pride and ‘over’ exaggeration. I have nebulous memories of that journey. My flight to US took off. I gathered my shit together and tried to act cool. During the flight, all of a sudden, the plane started trembling. I had never heard about turbulence until then. Also, that was the first time I had tried wine, because my friend had told me to do so. So, during the flight itself, I had learned two things: firstly, that the flight trembles because of air turbulence and secondly, the crew member had asked me, what kind of wine will you have Sir, to which I responded by looking at a friend “How many types of wine do you have?” from which I learned that there were 2 types of wine. I was scared during for the first few hours of flight, until I was asleep.
After a couple of layovers and adventurous flights, we finally reached our destination. The next day we got our apartment. Everything seemed alien to me. I was astonished to see the clean, lonely roads and un-encroached, vacant walkways. There was a gentle breeze with a bright sun, shining right overhead; I knew I was in the ‘Sunshine State’. It was a different feeling altogether. We went to Walmart for grocery shopping and that was one of the biggest stores I had ever seen until then. It had everything. Like everything! From grocery, hardware to guns. I was overwhelmed. Everything was in US dollars. I am not sure it was just me or with everyone, that I used to convert everything into Indian Rupees before buying and then make a decision.
For first few months I spent only on 2 basic human needs, food and shelter. I was introduced to new life skills like cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc. But, I was more focused on getting an on-campus job so as to take care of daily expenses, I didn’t want to ask for money to dad. I had registered for classes already. With few references and interviews, I got a job as a part-time security guard for dorms. It was a night job from 10 PM to 4 in the morning. Classes had already started. Some of my classes used to be around 8 in the morning. With an extensive coursework and odd job time, it was all a game of time management, which I sucked at. The last public transit used to be at 2 in the morning, so while coming back home I had to ride my bicycle home. It used to be around 20-30 mins ride. The roads used to be dark and scary. I used to reach home somehow. During winter it was worse when frost starts collecting on your gloves and face. We had a dog. Her name was Merriam. She used to be the only one who used to welcome me. I cannot forget the way she used to look at me. Sitting in the porch and watch me park my bicycle. Those looks used to make me happy. Love is what makes you smile when you are tired, irrespective of where it is coming from. I miss her.
Managing studies, part-time job, a sinking long-distance relationship and finding a balance between them was a tricky task. I would say more stressful than tricky. It was harmful to take any of them for granted. The course pattern, exams, pointer system everything seemed like a puzzle. Last minute studies were not sufficient. One of the course was tangent to me. I felt like I was lacking something. I felt like I didn’t belong here. I had no one near me whom I could have opened up to. I didn’t do very well in that semester. Life was miserable. I knew it was going to be difficult. But not that difficult! I used to keep telling myself that I was not here for this. I had to motivate myself. I used to go for lonely long walks thinking of what and why it went wrong. My grades were everything for me then, after all I was here for studying. I knew they were not important when it comes for job search. But, it certainly helps. I knew I will need all sorts of help then.
Next semester started. I was a bit more careful and diligent while selecting my courses and my part-time job shifts. At the same time keeping the relationship alive was another monkey on my back. Everything was going pretty much according to plan. But I was wrong. She broke up with me. It is never a good time to break up. But that was the worst fucking time. All those years we had spent together were in front of me. I questioned every single moment. I may sound weak, but I was not prepared for that, I was shattered. I was at my lowest point in my life. I was not able to accept it. ‘I used to walk in the rain so that no one could see my tears’ – type situation :p My playlist was full of sad songs. My roommates had to participate in that as well for no reason. I tried every possible thing I could do to get us back on track. After several unfruitful attempts, it was just me.
I had two choices. One was either keep crying about what had happened and drown, and other was to get good grades and look out for future. The other was clearly my choice. I was looking at the bigger picture. I was here to achieve something. It used to hurt but I stayed strong. I did well in that semester. I made new friends. I started socializing and hanging out with different people. Learned new things which I am not proud of ;). It helped me a lot just getting over the breakup. Not fully, but partially. The thing that helped me the most was putting ‘myself’ first before any situation. I was not being selfish but more of watching out for myself. I had started accepting it. The way I started looking at it was like whatever it was, it was good. Just pick the best from it and continue. The most difficult thing to get away with is the attachment, the habit. There forms a hole, a void in your emotional space. You can easily fill up the hole by picking up new hobbies, learning new things, whatever that will keep you busy. You also have to understand that not everyone is same as you are. Everyone has reasons for their actions. They have their own thoughts, their own plans. Respect them. Keeping grudges will bring nothing. Be forgiving. Be humble. But be smart. Be hopeful.
After the surviving skills I learned through my journey in US, technical skills seem like a bonus. The experience has been fantastic. There is no bigger joy than finding yourself. I hope you find yourself. I would like to end on my first try on a Hindi one-liner.
“Hum itne niche chale gaye the ki…upar aaneka maja aagaya”
P.S.: Pasand aaye toh daad jaroor dena. ☺