Nothing like home! When someone immigrates to another country, especially if it is far away and very different, at first he/she gets a feeling of virtual extreme excitement. After a few days, weeks or months of having stayed in the new country, everything begins to change. I came to the United States two years ago. I was so enthusiastic to finally travel and live in the United States, because it was my dream to study abroad since I was very young. I underwent much trouble and real suffering to convince my family that I am capable of living alone and taking that step in my life. Since I come from a poor background, I had to do my best in the high school in order to get the highest grades and find a company that could afford me a scholarship. I knew that my family would not be able to fund my studying abroad. I understood their situation, but I was not willing to let that kill my dreams. It was not easy for me to get a scholarship, not even for anybody with a scholarship. However, I managed to get one. It was the best day of my life. My family celebrated with me.
Finally, my dream came true. My star was shining. On my way to the airport, my mind was reviewing my memories in my house, kissing my parents’ head in the early morning, eating meals with my family, playing, and exercising. I noticed that, unconsciously, a tear dropped on my passport. I was happy about my dream coming true, but I could not get over the fact that I would be miles away from my family, which is the pillar of my life that keeps me going. I could feel my heart beat irregularly to my confused feelings.
I am now in the United States. The weather is not as usual. Scattered thunderstorms have taken over the skies. Back at home, the sun is shining like a yellow ball of fire in the sky. I dream of sitting on the balcony with my family and staring at each another if there were no more stories to tell. I miss the moments and jokes that I would be enjoying with my family and friends. They were always in a positive and fulfilling mood. There was always something to share with my friends and family. Sadly, I cannot express the same for my US experience. I am among those few people who stand out as foreigners. I sometimes look blank as it is difficult for me to follow conversations with people, since they speak very fast and complex English. My social life becomes dented with a great challenge of trying to establish friendship and other relationships with people who do not come from the United Arab Emirates. It just gets complicated. I tell jokes to my friends, but I often have to try even harder. Embarrassment is all that follows as I appear to be trying just too hard to fit into the social system that does not seem to even recognize my existence.
The days go by, weeks and months follow. December came and so did its second day. This was the day I had long waited for. It is the National Day in my motherland. I remembered my history classes back in high school and what the teacher used to say. My home will always be home. The United Arab Emirates celebrates its National Day on the 2nd of December. It will celebrate its 44th National Day this year. My fellow countrymen and family mark the confederacy of the seven Arabian emirates into a single organization. It symbolizes the founding of the United Arab Emirates in 1971 under the power of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who then became our first president. It was the day life was breathed into the hearts of the Emirati. I am an Emirati.
There was no particular advertisement or announcement about our National Day. I could hardly believe that I would not celebrate our national holiday. It is meant to be a day that should be celebrated in unity and among friends, nationals, and family. I seemed to be all alone. I sighed in anguish and solitude. It was my second National Day that would go by without an actual celebration. There was no festivity and fun. The food, the scenery, music, dance, and other cultural shows were not that I was used to. Virtually every family back home was celebrating. I missed the food that is made on the National Day. It was among the years’ tastiest and most meaningful meals that an Emirati ever takes. I missed the variety and quantities of food so much. For instance, one sitting in our country would entail eating of delicacies such as the Emirati staple of harissa or harees which often varies in its consistency depending on its viscosity. I was no longer able to partake in this as a dumpling or even as porridge. This delicacy reminded me of its commonality during many occasions, such as the Islamic celebrations of Eid and Ramadhan, weddings, and engagements. Oh, and the machboos made from fish, lamb, shrimp, chicken, and mixes of Middle East spices known as Baharat. I have probably lost my taste since the Emirati sky smiled waving goodbye at me. This only made my emotions boost. My sadness was at its peak. I kind of regretted my wish to study abroad. I no longer felt liberated and reborn on our National Day. I would no longer be a part of activities, such as cultural festivities which involve such undertakings such as henna tattoos stations, traditional dances, stilt walking, and a band show by the Abu Dhabi police department. Folklore performances also make a big part of the celebrations. No more Emirati National Day fireworks.
At the end of the day on 2nd December, I feel like I am more of a stranger to my native culture and events while feeling close to an outcaste in the United States. The day ends in a devastating and demoralizing tone as I feel as though I lost my identity in both the US and my Emirati state. I often want to scream at the top of my voice, but I figure out that it will be a barren effort. I have to continue with my studies.
My moving to a new country has had its positive and negative impacts. I have lived a relative life of these two sides. I, however, have had a significant amount of obstacles in the sense that I miss my home country. I have struggled and still struggle to fit in, since I am in a new environment which greatly impacts me and my friends’ difference in first language. The most agonizing experience in my move to the United States is the fact that I miss the celebration of our National Day on the 2nd of December. There are not as many people to celebrate with, especially family. Family and friends are the foundation of my happiness. They keep me in motion. Occasionally, there are clashes between the day and my classes. The food and activities are way limited in the US as compared to the United Arab Emirates. I unconsciously feel my stomach turning and rumbling some of the days thinking that I am alone in the world full of diversity and strangers. My heart never stops beating rapidly as my Emirati background and culture constantly resonate in my mind. It is indeed a sad experience. I miss home!

This text was written by Liana Wongа who is a writing editor at

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