My parents told me that when you feel pain in your life that means you are growing up. I couldn’t understand the saying at that time, and, of course, I didn’t keep it in my mind. Nowadays, it seems like I am getting a clearer understanding of these words. The story below is from a part of my experiences in the United States that helped me to become the man who I really want to be.
Four years ago, I arrived in this new land with a lot of excitement, happiness and worries. I was so surprised by everything, because even the trees, flowers and buildings were different from my country. I thought I would have a great life here.
The first year in Missoula, I was studying at the English Language Institute (ELI). I think that was a good start for me to open the door to American culture, since I hadn’t studied any English before. I met a lot of friends who from different countries, and we used to talk about cultures, hang out, play sports and travel. I really enjoyed myself.
However, the first pain also came to me. Most of my friends were exchange students, they just stayed here for six months or one year. So, every time I met some new friends, and grew to care about them, then they left. More importantly, I might never meet them again during my life, I really can’t stand this feeling.
Once, when I was at the Foodzoo, I looked out at the crowd of people and I was trying to recognize someone who I knew, but I knew nobody there. It seemed like I had just arrived in a new place, my eyes were becoming moist. Because when they left, I was alone again.
Perhaps someone would ask, “where are your Chinese friends?” Most of my Chinese friends had moved and lived off campus but I was still living on campus. In addition, I also thought I couldn’t have a lifestyle here like I had in China, because I wanted to make more friends to learn more culture. That’s why I didn’t really hangout with my Chinese people that much. I could feel that our friendship was drifting farther and farther away, and every time I thought about it, my heart hurts.
Because of loneness, I usually thought too much and started to losing confidence. I would live in other’s lives, for instance, if someone said my English was not good enough, I would be sad the whole day. The things like that drove me crazy.
I felt wronged and I told these things to my dad. “Well, you feel life is hard, and that is right. What you need to do is either prove your abilities or shut up and accept the reality,” he said straightly. I was so disappointed and angry with his words because I thought he should comfort or motivate me, but he didn’t. I spent the whole second year to reflect on my relationship to my friend and figure out how to become more confident and strong. I thought the life was boring, hard and painful.
However, things always have a good side. Since I was living on campus, I made a lot of other local friends. My friends were so friendly and helpful, and I felt relaxed and no pressure when I stayed with them. I remembered that once I went to a friends’ house party, I was so shy and couldn’t talk to anyone. I stayed in a corner and looked at the others. My friend saw me then came over and said, “Hi, Ethan. How are you?” With an awkward smile, I said, “I’m good.” Then, he turned his head to two friends and said, “Hey, guys. This is my friend Ethan. You guys should meet him, he is from China.” After that, we shook hands and introduce ourselves. That was really a good feeling.
From that time, I hang out with some close friends, we were getting to know each other more and more deeply. I observed and found out that they all have a similar trait: confidence and independence. They were outgoing, talkative, and friendly, I’ve learned a lot from them and started to change. I was influenced by people around me eventually. I forgot those things that I thought unreasonable and awkward truly. More and more confidence and happiness helped me change the relationship with my Chinese friends and I started to enjoy myself more.
Finally, I studied and experienced a lot of different cultural things, and my English has improved a lot as well. My life became sunny, colorful, and wonderful. Meanwhile, I understood that why my dad didn’t comfort me, because he wanted me to be more independent, not only in life but also in my heart.
Now, I always tell myself, “If you don’t feel willing about life, you should not give up and if you rebel at actuality, you should change it right now. The downhill paths are easy to walk, but they are not what I want.” This is my life in Montana.