After three weeks graduating high school in Vietnam, my family immigrated to the U.S. I was studying really hard for College Admission Exam in Vietnam. I learned Chinese as a second language because I wanted to go to Taiwan. I was not prepared for the U.S at all. I immigrated to the US on June- 2013. It has been 4 years. Even though I have been to several places, traveled to different countries but I have not been back to Vietnam ever since. This will be my first time after 4 years.
I am feeling nervous and excited. When I left the country, I as a 17 years old boy who did not know who I am. I did not know what I want to do. I did not know how I can survive in a new country without knowing the language and culture. I did not have the courage and confident to tell my friends and my relatives that I was living in the U.S. My friends knew that I was leaving though. They just wanted to me to tell them directly.
For the first six months in San Francisco, my family did not have any income, and we were very poor, living on the aid of my aunt and government assistance. Being under eighteen made it extra difficult to find a job; thus, I did not have money to pay for my daily expenses let alone go to school. Not knowing English, I experienced culture shock and depression. I did not know what to do with my life. I knew school was important, but I did not know where to go or how to enroll. All my friends were in Vietnam, so I had no one to share my feelings with. I was homesick and missed my previous life. For the first year, I cried a lot. I cried because of how lonely I felt. I cried because of seeing my parents in their fifties still needing to work physical jobs and extra shifts. I was depressed and wondered if it would be easier if I just disappeared or moved back to Vietnam.
But, I did not give up. I convinced myself that the American Dream was big enough for anyone, including myself. I knew if I worked hard enough, I would get ahead and that education was the key. The day I turned eighteen, I tried to find a job so that I could contribute to my family and save up for school. I eventually found a job working the graveyard shift at a warehouse which allowed me to save money and go to school during the day. I began taking the lowest level ESL classes even though it was very hard and I felt tired most of the time. After a year and a half in non-credit class, I moved on to credit classes and eventually found my way towards a successful educational path. In time, I also made friends and became happily adjusted to American life. Now, I feel a sense of belonging.
Those past 4 years, I have grown a lot as a person, from a teenager to an adult. I have overcome depression and suicidal tendency. I have learned how to take care of myself in this new environment. It was hard for me to talk about my feeling when I was a kid but I have learned how to express myself through writing and communication. I have worked and saved up for school. I come out to my friends and family. I have fallen in love. I also have had my heart broken, and it also has healed. I have traveled to add more perspectives to my life. I have learned meditation and listened to my inner voice. Recently, all the hard work paid off. I got accepted to UC Berkeley.
It has been a dream. I have been living a dream. I am at SFO writing this post. My eyes are full of tears, the tears of joy and happiness. I feel grateful and thankful because my family bought me here. I am grateful to fully be who I am instead of who people wanted me to be. Those past 4 years have built my personalities and my characteristics. I would not trade the world for any of these experiences.
Thanks San Francisco, I have called you my home where I feel loves, where my family and my lovely friends are. I did not leave my heart in San Francisco. My heart is in San Francisco. Does the light make the computer’s screen become blurred or are my eyes full of water? Or maybe both? The answer is not important. The important is that I AM SO READY TO SEE YOU, VIETNAM.