A Journey to a Different Planet Being different is lonely. No onetells us, but it is true.
One can be in a huge group of people and feel like acomplete outsider, especially speaking a different language. I walked around unsteadily all day. Surroundedby unfamiliar territory and uncomfortable weather, I tried to search for anysigns of similarities with my home country.
This was my first day in the United States of America.A few months before all of this, I was happy with my life in Egypt.Because I lived there for sixteen years, I was not looking forward to anysignificant changes, although my parents told me earlier this year, we would bemoving to the United States. They told me the reason was for a bettereducation, but I was not listening at that time. When I almost finished mysophomore year of high school, I knew that moving to the United States andchanging my school was imminent. But before the last week of school, I wenthome and my mom tried to casually tell me, “Mohamed, we are moving in July.
Weare going to the United States.” At first, my reaction was somewhat neutral, not even panic. I didnot know how to feel. I did not immediately realize the effects that this majorchange would have on me. As soon as we arrived in the UnitedStates, the culture shock that we experienced was truly inevitable; however,the most important and consternating challenge was finding a job for my family. Adding to that challenge was the newlanguage that we had to learn.
Even though I knew that the main reason we camehere was for a better education, I never knew that the obstacles that we had toface would be so burdensome. As generic as it may sound, the language barrierwas easily the biggest challenge and hurdle of my life. I had great difficulties understanding English because all I had was fundamentalknowledge of the language, but that did not stop me.
A month passed since we arrived in the United States, and it was already the first day ofschool. That day, I walked into that huge building not knowing what was waitingfor me. I slowly walked forward as I started looking at all the other students.Most were in groups, laughing and talking. I felt very small, like I was an outsideror an alien who had just landed on planet Earth. I wanted to go back to Egypt,but that was not possible. However, it was these challengesthat provided me with the determination to work hard in school and establishmyself as an ambitious person.
Istarted reading mountains of books, learning some new vocabulary. Eventually,the transition between Arabic and English became easier. I started to be able to comprehendthe English language. Climbing this wall reaped a great gift as well: theability to speak two of the most spoken and useful languages around the world. Meanwhile, I startedmaking good friends, and felt that I could fit in the mainstream culture. Mydemanding work started paying off.
Today, I am no longer worried if people canunderstand me. I have found a way to break the language barrier and still enjoymyself. I welcome the challenge and have discovered this characteristic withinmyself in many other situations such as fighting stronger people in a Karatefights; I do not enjoy the easy way out; I challenge myself everyday, whetherI’m writing an essay or fighting in a karate championship. If there is alanguage or culture barrier, I will always build myself a ladder and hop overit.