I had a question about why other people were dead and I was still alive when I read news about the terrorist attacks in Paris. I wanted to die instead of them if I could exchange my life for theirs. Apparently, I do not enjoy my life for now. They have families, homes, and dreams while I have no one in my life, and my dreams fade away. I do not know exactly when I became depressed, but I feel certain that now I am on a roller coaster of culture shock. I cannot help but scream while going through the emotional stages of culture shock.
Actually, I was happy in the United States, at first. This is the first stage of culture shock, and it is called the honeymoon phase. Everything is new, different, and exciting for a woman from the Third World. I think American people are good, kind, and helpful. I travelled from the west to the east of the United States. I visited from Seattle to New York. I was delighted to visit Los Angeles and Washington D.C.
Unfortunately, I went into the next stage of culture shock, a crisis period, after I had started to attend Philadelphia University and I had moved to a dorm. I felt annoyed all the time. The food is salty, and everything is so expensive in the University. I felt all the people around me are mean like cold weather. I felt angry when a waiter from the university cafe intentionally did not put my food in a plastic bag and I had to do it by myself. I just realized that it was discrimination. I do not think he will treat white students or black students like this.
It is really hard to cope with the disintegration stage, the process of losing strength. I started to feel homesick, depressed, and helpless. I am afraid to dream and I feel anxiety in my chest whenever I am confronted with different behaviors and values. I feel terrible when I pay dorm fees and meal fees. What I am doing here? I became confused. If I donate this amount of money to a poor student in my country, he or she can study for one year. I feel guilty when I eat a variety of food in a dining hall because this amount of money for my meal can provide meals for one full day for a whole family in my country. When I could not find my place in the environment, I wanted to escape from this bitter situation.
I walked in the shoes of Marcus Mabry because in the essay “Living in two worlds” he writes, “As I travel between the two worlds it becomes harder to remember just how proud I should be – not just of where I have come from and where I am going, but because of where they are.” I totally understand the author that it was difficult to be proud of himself when his family was poor and he had a comfortable lifestyle. Although I have not gone back to my country, I saw everything happening there on Facebook. Should I celebrate my life here while the longest civil war in the world is still being fought in my homeland?
I literally became a person who lived between two worlds, but I did not belong to any world. I almost forgot about why I came to the United States in the first place. Is it to study Sustainable Design or English or democracy or American culture? I have lost my way and self-confidence. My sleep has been affected and my happiness has melted.
Although Marcus was not happy, his family was proud of him for his education. Sadly, I do not feel satisfied while studying here. Is my family proud of me? Absolutely not. Actually, nobody cared about me when I decided to study in the United States. Marcus writes that he was proud of his family for surviving in their worlds. Should I feel proud of my people for surviving under a military regime? Yes, I am enormously proud of their resilience but I feel worthless, useless, and hopeless because I am not helpful for any society.
So the question remains: should I live? Should I be proud of myself for being alive? What if I cannot be proud of being myself, should I die? I wonder if I die, will my savings help other girls' lives? However, my friend persuaded me not to die here because she was afraid that if I became a ghost, I would meet unfamiliar, scary and hostile ghosts.
Unfortunately or fortunately, it is harder to die than to live because we, humans, cling to life. And there is also a little excuse that if I live longer, I could help people better. Or maybe I will recover from this brutal situation if I get a professional job or an internship. Better yet, when I enter the adaption or adjustment stage of culture shock, I might be happy again.
Well, that is why people say “ You reap what you sow.” I followed my dream which made me very regret. In Buddhism, it is called karma, the law of cause and effect. I have got a pain as a result of my own action. After all, it is a universal truth that everybody hurts sometimes. It is my turn, my experience and I have convinced myself that the best is yet to come.