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A Year and A Half

A Subtle Anecdote

By RuthPublished 3 years ago 8 min read
The face of holding in tears

No pun intended, but I was totally shocked when I found out that I was supposed to be travelling alone to a foreign country to study. This happened when I was sixteen. I had graduated from school at fifteen and my mother didn’t want me to start university immediately because of my age, so we decided to keep me at home for a year.

I had gotten admitted into a preparatory college in Canada, and I was excited. I thought that we would all travel together and when we got to my school, we would all cry and tell me goodbye. Just like the parents in the movies did when they were dropping off their child. I was so wrong.

I was told that my parents' visa would come later than mine and they didn’t want me to fall behind schedule so I was to go ahead without them. I was surprised. They were agreeing to let their sixteen-year-old child fly without a guardian.

That day, more specifically, night, came and I was at the airport with my mother, sister and me, shedding tears and my father trying to separate us so I could be on time for my flight. When he led me to my waiting spot, he didn’t know but I could see the tears too. I was so sad because my father never cried so seeing him like that broke me, but I couldn’t tell him I didn’t want to go. It was an opportunity to broaden my horizons and I knew he wouldn’t agree either.

He had promised that they would visit when their visas came. I nodded, said my last goodbyes and boarded my plane.

Let me tell you, it was hard. At the back of my mind, I was excited at the fact that I was travelling alone for the first time, but when it got to getting my luggage, a lot of it, and talking to people I didn’t know, I was so lost. My parents had always done the talking and I was new to it, but I had to brave through. I wanted to make my parents proud.

Fortunately, all went well and I reached Canada safely, making sure to keep in touch with my parents. I stayed in a hotel overnight and went to my school the next morning.

Let me just say that I was already scared, From the moment I got down from the taxi to my room. Everyone, and I emphasize, everyone had one or both parents or a guardian so I stood out like a sore thumb. I was a sixteen-year-old foreigner in a new country for the first time without my parents. I couldn’t process properly and it was already my turn, I had gotten to the registration point and I could feel the stares.

I'm sorry for the quality, my phone was a very old model. The entrance.

The staff looked around me expecting my mom or somebody to pop up behind me but after a few moments, and seeing no one, they smiled. I did my best to return it, hiding my shaking hands behind my body. They asked if t was just me, and I nodded, afraid my voice would squeak.

They didn’t seem to find a problem with it and gave me all I needed: my key, my envelope, you know the usual student starter pack. I was led to my room by one of the students and then, the insecurity kicked in.

I was much taller than her, standing at 178cm, she looked 160cm at most. I was very insecure about my height because in high school before I came here, I was mocked for being taller than the average height for a female. Still haven’t gotten over it to this day.

There was no conversation between us because I didn’t know what to do. I definitely couldn’t start it. I didn’t know what to say. I hoped my room wasn’t far so the awkwardness could end but I was so wrong. I was at the end of the fourth floor. I just bared with it. I was shown my room and gave her my best smile with thanks.

So, what I had learned about the college was that it was a co-ed school, with the two hostels separated at the side and the rooms had either two or four people sharing. Thankfully, I was in the two-sharing room. It was better than four. My roommate hadn’t arrived yet, so I was happy. I didn’t know what O was going to face so I hoped she came late.

After unpacking, it was time for orientation. This was the start of the scariest week ever. I never knew how people made friends so easily and fast because when I got downstairs, people were already in groups. They were chatting, laughing and all I could do was marvel at the sight before finding a space where that was quiet.

Again, I noticed that I was taller and had a bigger frame than most females and even some males. I made sure to hide my presence as much as I can. I knew they were nice, I just didn’t have the courage to say anything.

I also noticed that people in groups were from the same country or ethnicity. It wouldn’t even work for me either way because the college students I had spent sox years with were toxic, so I didn’t know if they were the same. I wasn’t willing to risk it.

So, that was how I spent the next two days starving myself to avoid social interaction. It was unnecessary, I know, but I was just scared and alone. I hadn’t been able to contact my parents too because my phone couldn’t connect to the wifi and I hadn’t yet purchased a SIM card.

I was confused, scared and terribly hungry so I decided to risk it all and go for breakfast. I couldn’t avoid orientation, so I went down and sat alone again at the table. It didn’t help that it was a wide table, either. I finished my food as fast as I can and went to the orientation spot. I was at the very back of the group of students and just kept quiet, listening to the chatters and murmurs.

Then, we were put into groups and I almost left. Why was I being screwed over every second? I was prepared to again be silent and say nothing, but they were all so welcoming. I was so relieved.

They didn’t pay attention to my height or size, they weren’t faking their smiles, I was so happy. The times that I was silent, I also wished to converse with someone but I just couldn’t.


We were in the same group the whole week, and I was able to bond with them and make a few more friends in the process. The term started and I decided to be brave. I wasn’t a child anymore. My parents weren’t here to console me every step of the way. I had to adapt, albeit how hard it would be. In the end, I had so much fun and finally bonded with people from the same ethnicity as I was.

I made beautiful memories, I was involved in a lot of sports, I got a scholarship and won an honorary medal at the end of the year.

The last game

I had convinced myself that I was going to be the loner of the year but I was the exact opposite.

So, you’re here, you managed to read all that and somehow you find yourself in the same situation as I was back then. I just have one thing to tell you.

Take. The. Risk.

Take it. Never do what I initially did. You have to understand that through life we would be put through many situations similar to mine and more. Don’t be afraid. Learn to adapt. It may not be easy.

I spent sixteen years of my life in my country and was suddenly sent abroad to study with no one to follow. It wasn’t easy, but you’ll get there. You always do.

Granted people won't be the best to you all the time so you have to learn how to be assertive in cases like that. I didn’t face any scenario that someone was racist or said anything derogatory to me and some may have faced it or are currently facing such.


Don’t let it get to your head. You're worthy. You’re strong. You don’t have to make the most amount of friends but don’t let the most important ones pass you by. You're going to need them, especially during these times. It was horrible when my parents could no longer visit due to Covid, so I relied on my friends.

It’s been almost two years and I miss them a lot, but I also have people around me who care for me. I also have the knowledge I got from adapting for a year and a half. It may not be much, but it still helps. A school of fish always sticks together.

Oh, and I also got the SIM card. I was so happy to see my family’s faces. :)


About the Creator


I am here to see how creative I can be :) Enjoy.

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