Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College
While I was growing up and living with my extended family in my homeland, Cambodia, I knew nothing about being lonesome. As a teenager, I had many companions to hang around with and I never felt forlorn at all. My life was happiness as usual. Sadness took place following the happiness, yet fortunately I had family and friends to share this with and to help all the time. Happiness never lasted long enough. Then, an unexpected thing occurred in my delightful life. A couple of years ago, after I graduated from high school, my parents decided to send me to study abroad. It was the moment that I first found my life of loneliness.
One can tell the feeling of being away from homeland, family and friends if he or she is used to that experience. It is like a soldier who has been commanded to complete a commission away from his country. Staying alone in this country, America, which has completely different customs from my own, I find myself in culture shock and consumed by loneliness. I am not used to it, and it does not identify me. It is such a huge change, a change never experienced in my life, that I nearly cannot accept it. Since American lifestyle tends towards individualism, it is difficult for me to communicate with the people who live in the neighborhood and even the students who study in the same class with me. The environment of the residential areas is hushed; I rarely see the people in my neighborhood talking to one another. It seems to me that Americans like securing themselves by staying in the house, while Cambodian people are friendly and accommodating; everybody in the community and village knows each other. For two semesters, I have studied in a community college in the United States; I have found that the class is so aloof that most of the students do not even know each other in the course group. Conversely, the students in my country agreeably work together; they cooperate as groups in which they are able to assist one another in their related majors.
For over six months living in this modern industrial country, I have not known anybody in my neighborhood or at school except a cashier at an Asian food store whom I consider probably shares the same heritage as me. It is certainly true that ones who are from the same country are able to recognize each other. One day on the weekend, while I was in line and ready to pay for foods in a grocery store, the cashier asked me in my native language, "Are you Cambodian?" I amazingly answered to her, "Yes, I have just come from Khmer," another name for Cambodia. "Good! You are lucky boy," she added. It is actually a fantastic chance for me to have a better education in this powerful country, yet the problem is I find myself quite lonely because of being away from homeland, family and friends. I occasionally try to make friends with the Native American students and international students from other countries as well, but it is awkward for me to communicate with them due to the fact that I do not speak English much. Language causes me various difficulties either in schoolwork or daily living in America. Because of the awful sorrow, I sometimes burble to myself: "America is killing me with the loneliness."
The time of happiness is quick, while the moment of grief is long. Actually, time is slow for those who wait. Six months, to me, feels like six years. I have been in America waiting for a special occasion to come. In fact, I am impatiently waiting for the day that I graduate from the school in the United States and return to assist my country and enjoy my life with family and friends again. I am waiting for the day as if nature were waiting for the rain to come and shift the season. It is the way life naturally goes; we have all kinds of experiences that basically play the important role as the teacher to enrich our life with understanding. With hope and faith, I am here to do the right things for the sake of my family and homeland.
We human beings generally have bad moments in our lifetimes. No one can avoid them for the rest of his or her life. Some people live in the loneliness because they lack love. Some learn it when they isolate from family or friends. It is a terrible emotional sickness which has no certain scientific cure. It is, in my opinion, a nightmare which lasts so long, and grants me an awful outlook towards my own world. It is finally a dreadful illness which causes fear, anxiety and boredom that shortens my life.