My first night in America

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Nineteen years old… I thought reaching that age would make me an adult. Actually, I thought being eighteen would magically transform the little girl that I thought I was into the responsible and independent woman that I have always aspired to be. Well, it didn’t. These are just numbers; numbers that help us cope with the harsh reality we live in. We think we want to become independent and stop relying on our parents. The truth is nobody wants to have such heavy responsibilities as our parents’. At least, I know I don’t, not right now. My name is Salma, I am nineteen and I cried like a baby when I realized I was all alone in the United States of America.

I am an exchange student coming from Morocco. I know what I’m about to say might sound cliché but it really is a beautiful country that deserves to be visited. Anyway, one of the nice characteristics of Morocco is that everybody cares about each other. There are no such things as special houses for elderly people because Moroccans care too much about their parents to put them in houses where they won’t be able to see them every day. Also, there is no such rule as “leaving the house as soon as we turn eighteen” because parents could not possibly get through life without seeing their children every single day. So, I hope that you understand now why coming to George Washington University was both the best decision I took so far, but also the most heartbreaking one.

The main reason that drove me to make that decision was the chance to meet new people from so many different places. This is still the main reason why I am not depressed right now. I am sitting in this big empty room (where I can’t even manage to turn the heat on!) and the only thing that keeps me from bursting into tears is the hope of seeing this place full of people. I don’t mind whether they are happy or sad, angry or joyful. All I want is to feel that I am not alone, and I think I came to the right place for this. However, since I am a very sociable person, it is hard for me, right now, to look at my situation from a different perspective, a more cheerful angle. I knew the first days would be hard, so I like thinking that I was prepared enough for this. The truth is, you can never expect how great and hard this experience is at the same time. I am afraid, I admit it, but only because this is all new to me and not because I regret coming here. I would make that same decision over and over again despite my fear because I know it will disappear soon enough.

My name is Salma, I am nineteen and I am done crying! Of course I miss my family and friends. So what? I mean, it’s not like crying is going to make me see them any time sooner. I want to enjoy every single moment of my time here. I know nothing here so of course the unknown is scary, but I hope it soon won’t be unknown anymore. Actually, I went by myself today to buy different things from various stores. So, I can proudly say that today, everything seems less unknown and scary than yesterday. I managed to keep a composed face when I got lost even if deep inside I was totally panicked. Can you see how this amazing experience is already performing miracles on the usually impatient person that I am? Anyway, I want to visit the city, the country… everything. I want to share new experiences with new friends with whom I won’t lose contact when I come back to Morocco. I want to keep speaking English until it becomes as fluent as my Arabic or French. I want to learn new languages, new habits and discover new cultures to better understand them. I want to become this independent and strong woman that I have always aspired to be, and I think coming to GWU is a great first step towards achieving this goal.

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