Making the Transition: An International Student Adjusts to Life At Bryn Mawr

in Bryn Mawr/Opinion by

By UMME TANJUMA HAQUE, Staff Writer

Home. The word is pretty tricky. Sometimes it feels suffocating, but, most of the time, we can be ourselves there without a second of doubt. When the time finally comes to leave that place of safety, it is supposed to be hard.

It was not for me–until I took that one left turn at the Bangladesh airport and saw my family waving their goodbyes. Later, as I sat in the waiting room, I finally had time to think. I was not worrying over what clothes to buy, what college things I needed to check off before I left, when to start packing or what else needed to be done.

Suddenly, just for a moment or two, I felt empty. I didn’t cry. It seemed as if all the weight that was on me had vanished, leaving me with only the thought of what I was leaving behind: my family. Thankfully, a friend (who is now my roommate) joined me on the flight. It was a distraction I still appreciate.

The flights were painfully tedious. My legs were frozen and I couldn’t feel my back most of the time. The Abu Dhabi transit was distressing; I no longer had the immigration panic distracting me. The constant bustle of people put me even more on the edge. My throat was parched, but I didn’t want to go around to search for water. If my parents were there, I wouldn’t have worried, but I was painfully aware of being all by myself.

For a person who has always been under the shield of her family, I was abruptly thrown out in the open. I am honestly quite surprised that I pulled through the experiences of pulling heavy bags and keeping my passport safe. After flights that felt eternal, I arrived at New York from Bangladesh.

The first few days were tough. I had to do all my chores by myself: I had to choose my clothes, arrange them, and complete work in due time without any assistance.

Finally, after all the preparation, I was able to settle in to Bryn Mawr.

For me, Bryn Mawr was a new beginning and a fresh start. Yes, it was difficult to move in, to fall asleep and wake up in a new place, to walk the most I ever have and to do my own laundry for the first time— but there was an upside. At last, I was independent.

I do miss my family, but the feeling was never overwhelming; I do not know whether I can attribute it to me or the people here. My hall advisor fixed the fan I’m using now. My customs person helped me set up my bedding. Two of the other customs people got me food because I was too tired to walk to the dining halls. And another walked me and my roommate to the bank because we couldn’t find our way off-campus without getting lost. The people here know how to show care and sympathy.

At the end of every day, I’m exhausted, still learning to adapt to a new place. Yet, every time I go to sleep, I know that I am a better person than I was when the day started. And that feeling is both novel and peaceful.

Photo Licensed for Reuse. 

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