My grandmother always ends our phone conversations with: “Good-bye, I love you and I am very proud of you”. She thinks I grew up to be independent, free spirited and brave. She prints photos of me reading in the library, standing on the mountain top, or just playing scrabble with friends. In her eyes, I live a wonderfully full life, surrounded by friends, leading to a blissful future ahead. So why am I sad, when my roommate is going home for the weekend, and I have to eat turkey sandwich “in the spirit of the holiday”?
If you are an international student, graduate student especially, these thoughts will come. They will come right before you fall asleep. They will appear while you are reading for the presentation. They will snatch you away from a conversation over morning coffee. What am I doing here? Have I made the right choice? Was there another way?
I fall at mercy of my doubts, I am really not a superwoman as my grandmother pictures me to be, but this is when I turn to people around me.
So far, when I needed help, a hug, or even a person you can sit together in silence, I was able to find it find it. There is no shame in reaching out, talking and sharing. The worst thing you can do to yourself is sit and be sad all alone. There are people out there who share same doubts and fears, and your story could be the key to a new wonderful relationship. There are no perfect people who are always composed, productive and always in control.
So I allowed myself to be sad over that turkey sandwich, because I am far away and can’t share these holidays with my friends and family back in Russia. But I am thankful for my friends here in UBC: Canadians, Americans, Spanish and Korean. They have the same doubts and get sad as well, we are all the same – grad students, who made a choice to move, to start over, and who get sad and afraid that this wasn’t the right choice to make.
We all can find something to be thankful for, small steps.