Sunday, October 23, 2005

Five Years

Today it has been 5 years since the first day I landed in this country! I had just arrived in New Jersey somewhere....in a hotel with about 200 other au pairs from all over the world. I had just left my family and my boyfriend of 5 years. I was really excited about what was going to happen next! We stayed at the hotel for 3 days where we had meetings after meetings to teach us as much as possible about the US and what was going to happen to us during the year ahead.

I met Husby less than 2 months after I arrived...the rest is history!! Coming here was a really good thing for me. On top of the fact that I met Husby, I started going to college. I was rather lost when I was in France. After graduating from high School I had no idea what studies I wanted to pursue (heck i'm still not sure!) Except that you can't just go with the flow in France and take General Education classes until something clicks and you make a decision. You have to know what you want to study when you get out of High School and start the program the next September. If you happen to realize that you don't like the program, you have just lost one whole year of studies, as the next "semester" will start the following September!

So I started working. I worked at McDonald's for a while, then I was a cashier in a huge grocery store...I was trying to figure what the heck I could do with my life and the idea of having a day care at home crossed my mind...as you can see I didn't have much enthusiasm. One day my boyfriend of the time asked me: "I know that you are not happy...what would make you happy? What would you like to do?" We knew a girl who had been au pair for a year in the US and she just loved it, so my answer was simple "I want to go to the US and be an au pair" He didn't expect that, but nonetheless let me fill up all the forms and get ready to leave.

I have to admit that I did not miss my family or my country at first. It was like a vacation and I was enjoying myself. The family that I worked for sucked, but other than that I was partying away and spending a LOT of time with Husby! When the end of the year came closer, I was ready to move on. I was done being an au pair, I felt like I was wasting my time. I started to go to a Community College as soon as I was done to start taking classes even though I was still not quite sure what I was heading toward.

I really have to acknowledge my in-laws without whom this would more than likely not have been possible. They agreed to sponsor me when I applied for an international student visa.

Husby has been really supportive and he instilled some values in me that I didn't have before meeting him. He pushes me to try harder and I now believe that I could probably achieve a lot of things that I set my mind to. I will be receiving my Bachelor degree in Management Information System a little after 5 years being in this country, which I can say that I am proud of, knowing that English is not my native language (It will have taken me exactly 4 years to graduate while working at least 35 hours a week the whole time....I'm proud of that!)

I am not by any mean saying that it was always easy. First of all being far from my family was fun for a while, but even though I made the decision to live abroad, I started missing them pretty quickly, and I wish I could live closer to them. The other thing that is hard is being a foreigner. I am happy about the fact that I never had any problems with anybody because of where I come from (except that my country was criticized by a professor and an entire class without them knowing that I was from there...but that's another story) even when there was tension between France and the US because of the was in Iraq. What I refer to when I say being a foreigner, is all the paperwork that has to be filled up, and all the extra money that I have to pay to take classes, and the couple of times when I couldn't leave the country because my paperwork was being processed...(while my green card was being processed I was "stuck" here for one year, while my family was just behind the borders in Canada!)

The last five years went by really quickly. I wonder what I would be up to if I hadn't had the courage to leave by myself to a foreign country...One thing is for sure, I am glad I did, I am happy to be where I am right now.

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