Read about part I here
There are about 500 of us from all of the countries of former Soviet Union. We have introduction seminars in DC. We live in dorms, have cultural programs, have fun and try to stay awake during the seminars after yet another sleepless night. We are divided into teams and I make friends with Russian, Ukrainian, Kazakh and many other students.- we are Purple. After a week or so we all fly out to our Universities.
I find out that together with me there will be two guys who will study at UAH- Kirill (from Kirgyzstan) and Yura (from Ukrain). We become really good friends and help each other as much as we can. We stay in touch to this day. I flew to India in 2010, to attend Kirill’s wedding, and I hope I can visit Ukrain and meet Yura’s wife and kid one day.
The USA is not what we imagined- it is so much more. Everything is so different- the weather, trees, people, air, roads, classes, teacher-student relationships. Plus, there is this American English that is very hard to understand - I don’t know the colloquial speech because we learnt “proper (book) English”. In 3-4 months I will know what “cool, awesome, what are you up to?” mean, but at first it was really difficult to communicate with fellow American students. I am having a cultural shock during the first 2 months.
There are many cultural events for freshmen at the University and I sign up to read Russian poetry at one of them. About an hour before the event I change my mind and go to the organizers to tell them I will not participate in the program. That is when I meet Him. He asks me about my smoothies and guesses right about the flavor (raspberry), he looks at my book and asks some random questions. I end up reading a little bit of Pushkin’s “Ruslan and Lyudmila” and managing to give Him my phone number in the end of the event.
I really want to be with this guy. This is the first time I have these warm fuzzy feelings towards anyone. In about a month we start dating.
In the back of my mind I know that in May, after my finals, I will go home and probably will never see this guy again. But right now I am here, in the States and I am enjoying my time.
The year flies buy. Although my school is so-so, I get to see New York, Virginia, Florida, California and Tennessee. I meet lots of great people and make good friends.
Our program coordinators tell us that we can stay another fortnight in the States if we find a place to live because the dorms will be closed. He proposes to stay at his apartment- I agree. Since he is working in Birmingham, I spend most of the evenings with his roommate, who is a pretty cool guy. My boyfriend tries to come home every evening, which means he has to wake up super early and drive back to Birmingham.
Our last night together is very sad. We sleep in each other’s arms. The moment I step into the corridor to the plane, I start crying. In Frankfurt airport- our transit stop- I see Him in every guy. I have a naïve hope that may be he flew after me and we will meet for the last time here, in Frankfurt. I cry the whole flight back home – I can’t believe I will not see him again.
Back home everything has changed. My house, trees, smells, roads – are not how I remember them to be. I have a common re-entry culture shock. I rarely go out and only with people who have been to the States like me.
My relatives come to my house to visit me and I get a call from Him. I come out with red eyes and go straight into the kitchen to help dad. My dad understands me, he says I will always remember my first love.
I get a job at the local tour-operating firm as a marketing assistant.
We keep in touch, He calls me, and we email each other. One day he asks me if I want to come back to finish school there. After the bureaucratic paperwork, He mails me the necessary documents and I go to the U.S. Embassy and get my visa. My 2YHRR (Two year home residence requirement) allows me to apply for a non-immigrant visa, like F-1 student visa. I buy the ticket the same day, and within two days I am boarding my plane back to the States.
He meets me in Nashville and helps out at the beginning; He’s still working in Birmingham.
I move in with a friend of mine- our apartment is close to UAH; I see Him only on weekends. In a year, I learn to drive and buy my first car and move in with Him.