So one of the wonderful fellow bloggers from the amazing Fabulous and Fearless community mentioned their anniversary on Sept. 12th. And it just occurred to me that this was my anniversary as well: 19 years ago (almost 2 decades!) I came to the US to study. And my world was changed for ever, even though I did not realize this at the time. 🙂
To begin with, I met my soulmate just a couple of days later. This in itself was a wonderfully unexpected turn of events. We’ve grown together ever since and I cherish each day we’ve lived our shared life. But this in itself too deserves a separate blog entry altogether. 🙂
I also left behind my native country, Poland, and all the memories that I had accumulated over the first 18 years of my life. Not that I’ve forgotten my father’s early death, our family trips to Germany for my eye surgeries, my desire to live elsewhere prompted by many friends who had left Poland, and my search for my own identity for my present and future. But somehow the vast distance that separated my old home and the new one served as a bandaid on a wound; my memories were soothed.
From then on, I could choose to reveal parts of my story to people because they had not known me from my childhood. I could also easily morph into whomever I wanted since people had no concept of who I was before. Making changes was easy!
I also gained insight into the possibility rather than the impossibility of fulfilling my dreams. In Poland, I was discouraged from becoming a journalist or a psychologist on the grounds of not being able to get to places (I was partially sighted) or not making a living. Also in Poland, I fell in love with the sound of the Chinese language and I wanted to study it at the university in my hometown. However, my professor decided she would teach me the pronunciation only and leave out the characters. Imagine how I’d write this blog if no one taught me how to write. 🙂 It’s perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but still, I don’t see how you can learn a language well and not learn its writing system. Anyway, I studied Chinese in college here in the US and no one questioned my choice–I was given support. I had a tutor who’d show me how to write the Chinese characters. Problem solved!
So something I could not accomplish in Poland I could easily do here. From then on, I was expanding the boundaries of what I could do and accumulating diverse experiences that shaped my knowledge and understanding of the world: an MLA in arts, folklore and translation, teaching in Asia, a PhD in education/anthropology, the privilege of meeting people from different walks of life or minorities, e.g. people with disabilities, people who are gay, people who have totally different political/social perspective on life.
Of course, I have no idea how my life would turn out if I would not have the chance to come to the US. I want to believe that I’d find my way to achieve my dreams. But thanks to the experiences I did have, my adult life here has been nothing short of wonderful.
Looking forward to what the future has to offer, and I to the future!
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