Sudin Shakya

Published On: June 24, 2017 01:22 PM NPT By: Sudin Shakya

Learned to walk again

Learned to walk again

I still remember the day I landed in the JFK Airport, New York. My cousin was there to receive me at the airport. Coming back to that day, I remember being exhilarated by the scenery in New York. I went exploring NY while we had a transit there. I was instantly captivated by the towering buildings. I shamelessly bent my whole body to get a glimpse of the top of the building; it was the NY Times’ Building. I thought Asan Chowk was a crowded place, but New York was a different story altogether.  

It didn’t take me long time to learn the way of living here. Smiling at a stranger was not abnormal. When someone asks, “How are you?” that merely means “Hello”, the person doesn’t care about your well being.  The country follows right hand side driving, and you will run into a lot of opposite traffic, if you follow the “always walk on your left” rule that was taught to us for a decade.

When I was boarding the bus to my college town, I saw how people respected the others in the line, especially the physically-challenged; everyone allowed them to board the bus and waited patiently. If the bus was full, the rest waited patiently for the next one. People followed traffic rules, and cars actually stopped for the pedestrians. Not the scene I was used to, either.

Living in a completely strange place with all strangers, was the beginning of a new life. In other words, I had to learn to walk again. The lifestyle here was completely different than what I was used to for the past 18 years of my life. I was worried that if I, who grew up in Kathmandu in a certain way, would be able to adapt to the different life that I had entered to or not. New faces stared at me every place I went.

I missed my mom the most. Back home, she would always wait for me with a prepared meal or worry about me when I was sick, but I was all alone here. I missed my old friends, but I found my solace in my new friends, with whom I made new memories.
There were few things that I really liked about Caldwell. I thought that faculty in US universities cared less about their students, specially the international students. But, I was wrong. The faculty and staff at the college were extremely cordial and helped me a lot during my time there. Seeing fellow Nepali students on campus also consoled my anxious mind. Looking around, I realized that I was lucky to at least have people whom I could relate to, talk to in a language I was used to for my whole life.

There was no sort of racial, gender or color discrimination. The students collectively enjoyed everyone’s traditions and culture. I had participated the school’s ministry to learn about their faith while they celebrated our Holi and Tihar enthusiastically. And I cannot forget the solidarity the school administration and alumni showed towards Nepali community when the unfortunate earthquake stuck Nepal in April 2015.

The classroom had a friendly atmosphere and we had flexibility to choose our classes. Priority was given to learning life skills and understanding rather than mugging up. Apart from classroom, we were highly encouraged to participate in community service, which helped us make an impact on someone else’s life.

I spent four years of my life in Caldwell, and finally the day came when I graduated and had to leave the homely town to further succeed in my life. I moved from the east coast to the west, California, leaving all my friends, yet again, to go to a new place where I would no longer see any familiar faces for a while. It was a new beginning yet again.
I really thought that every part of USA was as nice, clean and safe as Caldwell, until I went to New York, “The city that never sleeps”.  The people were always on a rush, no one cared about the other person, and the only thing they care is to reach their destination. There were performers, advertising agents and homeless people on the streets of Times Square, the most vibrant place in the city.

I got to visit different other states as well; some as part of the school trip, while some I went exploring new places. Every state had their own uniqueness to them, unique people, unique culture and unique accent of the natives. And wherever I went I was grateful for the network providers in the country because I could always find my way back, thanks to Google Maps. I always wondered, had it been in Kathmandu, I would never know which narrow alley I would end up.

Coming to the United States for education has made me a better person, in general. With the opportunities provided to me inside and outside of the boundaries of a classroom, the experiences I gained, the people I met, and things I have done, they shaped me into the person I am today. But I know this is not where it ends. I still have a long way to go—more new places, more strange faces and more adventures, waiting just for my arrival.

The writer is a recent graduate of Caldwell University, New Jersey. He is currently working in California.


walk again,

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