Whenever I check my news feed on Facebook these days, I can see a plethora of Dipawali- photos. In these photos, some friends are playing Deusi- Bhailo, some are decorating their houses and some are playing cards. I can totally feel how the atmosphere of Nepal is right now. When I remember Tihar, vibrant lights, sparkling fireworks, vivacious Deusi- Bhailo and my lovely sisters come to my mind, and take me back in time to the past Tihars. But this time, these are just the moments from my memory. Very few people in New Orleans know about Tihar. There are lights everywhere, but these lights are not the lights of Dipawali. Even the dimmest light that enlightens the world, used to living in the darkness rest of the year, is special. So, these light are not the most special ones, at least for me.
Not only Dipawali, but also a lot of other Nepalese occasions, people and food have been just a part of my memory after I came to United States. Nevertheless, this place is no less than a home to me. This place has already offered me life lasting memories and I believe the best moments are yet to come. The realization that I am going to stay here for four more years makes New Orleans feel like a new home to me. It’s amazing to have three homes at once in two different countries. One of them is Dimik, my village in Syangja, the next one Kathmandu, and my most recent home is New Orleans.
It has already been 2 months I came to New Orleans from Kathmandu. However, I feel like it was just yesterday. I vividly remember my friends giving me farewell with their “royal” honor. Before my departure, I visited most of my relatives, and reunited with all of my close friends. When they started to wish me a good journey, then only I realized that I was really leaving Nepal. This feeling got intense when I started shopping for the things required for my journey. When my departure was just few days due, at times, it would be very difficult for me to believe that I was travelling to a country, half way around the world, leaving all my dear ones. The fear of getting away from those people made me realizes their value in my life. I wish I could be there with them, but being apart is also a part of life. On the side note, the beauty of any human relation is the feeling of being close despite the unfathomable physical distance. Being apart is when the relations get tested. Those relations which remain firm even after long separation are the ones which continue throughout life, and have a very special part in our heart and memory.
The moment when my family members and friends came to Tribhuwan International Airport to see me off was really thrilling. I had a feeling of melancholy when I gave them my final good-bye because of the slight fear of a long segregation. Then, the longest travel of my life started. The flight from Kathmandu to Doha was delayed, so I missed my flight from Doha to Philadelphia. So, I had to spend the entire night in the airport of Doha. The next day, I flew from Doha to Dallas, from where I was supposed to catch my connecting flight to New Orleans. The fifteen hours of flight inside a metallic tube was dull and frustrating. I slept for most of the times. I had occasional chat with a friendly Arabic guy who was studying in Nebraska. After hectic immigration process and a quick transfer flight, I reached New Orleans Airport, where I gave away the first tip of my life to a guy who helped me carry my bags to a shuttle! The shuttle soon started and dropped me off at my campus. By that time, it was already night time.
The college was a completely new world for me. At first, it seemed very big. I often got lost in the first days, so always carried the campus map. After few days, I got used to the locations, and no longer used maps. I was surprised to see a large number of Nepalese in the campus. These were the only people I hanged out with in those days. I was out of contact with anyone outside the campus because I didn’t bring a laptop with me, and was not able to charge my phone because the charger’s plug didn’t fit into the American sockets. When I started charging my phone from the computers in the library, I was able to use my phone.
In those days, most of the time was spent getting to know people, place and the American lifestyle. The first month in college was festive because of different events being organized on campus every day. I participated in many of the events, and those events helped me greatly to meet a lot of friends. By attending those events, I came to know about the American culture and lifestyle, which facilitated an easy transition into the American life. Meanwhile, they were amazing because of the free food and drinks. Those events saved my money and provided a chance to enjoy delicacies.
Such events still happen on campus, but much less frequently. The excitement is also not the same. Sadly, the campus often gets lonely during the weekends and vacations because most of the people live off campus. On the brighter side, it is a place with tremendous diversity. There are a lot of international students from Nepal, India, Brazil, Germany and many other countries. I feel very happy to have more diverse friends added to my life. I often deliberate conversations with them; those conversations have added a lot of understanding about people, nations and culture to me.
Other ways of meeting new people for me are the extracurricular activities. I got involved with the student government at the beginning of this semester. They have a very long meeting once a week. Being a senator, I have come to know about the things going on in the college and the American political system. This role has particularly encouraged me to speak up, think analytically and become responsible. I recently got nominated in First Year Advisory Council (FYAC) which helps the freshmen have an easy transition into the college life. Likewise, I am also planning about starting a math club and a debate club. I have started to attend extra classes in abstract algebra and quantum mechanics. College life wouldn’t be this great without these activities.
Definitely, such activities are always fun; moreover, studying is also fun here. Studying in the American education system is not as difficult in Nepal. So, I have had comparatively less study load than in Nepal. However, I try to get ahead of my courses, and often indulge in sheer joy of studying. During my free time, I read novels, write computer codes or watch videos on YouTube. I also go to swim in the recreation center which is just a few minutes’ walk from my dorm. When I came here, I didn’t know how to swim, but after a great deal of struggle with myself, I can float fairly and swim for a couple minutes. Recently, I started playing guitar too. I am very excited to learn playing guitar. At other times, I hang out with my friends in the dorm.
One of the significant momentous memories with my friends was celebrating Dashain. Dashain was a couple weeks ago. Although I was expecting nothing much, we had a big celebration. In addition to all the Nepalese, many foreigners also came in the event. Savoring Nepalese delicacies after so long made both my taste buds and me very happy. We even danced to various Nepalese songs. The foreigners were very interested to learn Nepalese steps. Watching them sing and dance to the Nepalese songs was very interesting.
That was not the only great time I have had with Nepalese people. Last week, we had a fall break. For the four days’ vacation, I went to Birmingham to see my sister Sushma. I was very excited because it was my first travel within the United States, after travelling from Nepal. Because of the excitement, I couldn’t sleep the whole night and spent the night by watching Star Trek. In the morning, the bus left New Orleans at 8:45 and headed towards Montgomery. I keenly observed the road, people, shops, landscapes and anything that came on the way. After 6 hours of bus ride, I was in Montgomery. Montgomery was beautiful city, but it seemed very lonely. I hardly saw a handful of people there. I spent some time in the Wright Brother’s park by listening to an audio novel. After 3 hours, my sister and brother in law came to pick me up. As I was very hungry, we ate some delicious food on the way to Birmingham. Finally, the travel ended in the magnificent Birmingham. All three days spent in Birmingham were awesome because, I could eat Nepalese food including momo. I often remember those days spent with my loving sister and brother-in-law. The journey back was a dull experience except for an interesting archeologist from Georgia. I’ve been busy with my studies after my arrival in college.
These experiences I’ve had in the first two months in United States are definitely very different from my experiences in Nepal and other countries. Moreover, I’ve observed these experiences very keenly from a personal level because these are the consequences of many challenging and critical decisions in my life. So far, the experiences have been exciting. I truly hope that the best experiences are waiting for me out there. Thanks y’all for reading this journal!