By Johnny Nezha
Hard Truths that Need to Be Said
There you are, rejoicing in your new international student life in the U.S. — making new friends and absorbing a new culture. This is what you’ve wanted, right? America, the land of dreams, the land of opportunities, the land of “if you have the willingness to make it work” — there is no reason as to why it shouldn’t work.
Until something unexpected happens. Perhaps you absorb too much, to the point of immolation of your former self. I remember when I first moved to the U.S., I was constantly video chatting with family and friends back to Europe. I was criticizing America with very judgemental eyes and perceptions, and I felt that only my “home” friends would understand. Of course, being from Europe, we have been taught to take pride in our intellectual superiority complex.
This strategy will work for the first year, will settle in the second year, and will start fading by the third consecutive year of your life in the U.S. By your senior year, you’ve realized that there is no going back. Your conversations with your friends in your homeland are not the same anymore. That occurs for two reasons.
- A mentality paradigm shift on your end
- A mentality paradigm lag on their end (depending on where they live)
Your lives will evolve apart. This is only natural. Nothing to do with you, your home country, or the U.S. What most enticed and excited you, now seems feeble, boring, and wobbly.
You all will only be able to talk about the past and reminisce for so long, until messages will be delayed, there will be less availability (or intent) to chat, and yes, life will happen.
Life in the U.S. will hit you like an avalanche. It is fast paced. It is ambitious. You might/will fall in love. You might get married. Contemplate kids. Start enjoying different things. And with all of these, you simply won’t vibe anymore with your old crowd.
The worst part? Your vacations back home. Aside from a shift within your family, which is bound to happen when you are gone for 5+ years, you will additionally have to take yourself out for coffee with old friends. To catch up. You get in your first car you bought at 18, and which you haven’t driven for the past few years, you drive through alleys (you know, I lived in Italy, everything is tiny there), and nostalgia hits you on every corner you’ve made a childhood memory. You get to the coffee store, you sit down, you hug your friends, exchange pleasantries, talk crap about your high school professor, aaaaaand let the awkward crack show begin afterward. Perennial silence. You start checking your phone as a need to escape the uncomfortable situation you put yourself in because you wanted to trigger the “honor system.” You didn’t want to have just arrived from America and not say hi to your old friends, right? And they will comply, say yes to meeting you, until you realize “Wow, there’s nothing here anymore.” We all clearly have changed, and we don’t have much in common now, not even to uphold/upkeep a coffee talk.
That’s when you realize, oops, I think I am really done here, aren’t I?
Please keep in mind, when you decide to leave your home nation, that you will not come back the same. It’s just the cycle of life. No hard feelings. And what you leave behind most likely will not be there to wait for you. The passions will be gone. Likewise with our energies matching and life delights.
Johnny Nezha is an Albanian-born, Italian-raised, marketing student at Los Angeles City College. He loves technology and the power of its innovation, is the founder of a startup called Khleon, and his non-work hobbies are skywatching and astronomy.
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