Dear Ms. Khan,

Congratulations! You have been accepted into the Biomedical Engineering program at the College of Engineering for the Fall Semester of 2019. Along with the acceptance letter, in order to complete the final process, we have forwarded your I-20 form for you to apply for the F-1 student visa along with the financial forms and we also need your final transcript from your high school. All International Students are required to life On-Campus and you should complete your housing application on our website. Please forward us all the required documents listed on this letter. We are looking forward to seeing you soon! Again, welcome to the University of Cincinnati!


In a few days, Nadia Khan will be flying over to the United States to start her life as a college student. Time flies so fast and it seemed only yesterday that she just completed her Advanced Level examinations and graduated from school. She will be moving to a place, more than ten thousand miles away, far from her family, far from all her loved ones and far from her beloved country Sri Lanka. Is she really ready for this? She wasn't so sure. She was partly excited but she was also sad.

One more week, and then she will be flying over to Cincinnati to start her new life. And during that week, she will make use of everything she could do, so she can remember the fond memories she has during her last few days in Sri Lanka.

Day 1

Nadia's best friends, Sasha, Kesha, Malini and Shanti all Whatsapped each other, deciding to meet each other before each of them part in their different destinations. Sasha, whose father is British is going to England for college and like Nadia, she was leaving soon. Kesha and Malini has blissful few months to enjoy the tropical island before they both head off to Australia for college, as first term for them starts in January of next year. Shanti decided to take a gap year, working at as a student intern at HSBC which she was going to start next week before deciding which place to go for her college degree. All girls have different plans with their future and all girls are going to be separated in a matter of few weeks.

The girls met each other at The Coffee Shop, an elite café, located inside the five star hotel, Cinnamon Grand Hotel, in Colombo. The place was not very crowded and the girls manage to find a comfortable spot at the corner of the café. The soothing music came from the piano from the lounge, mingling with the mixture of laughter and chatter in the lobby along with the running of water in the water fountain in the lobby.

The girls, despite ordering lot of food and drinks were busy posing selfies on their phones. They were making funny faces in front of the camera and busy posting the pics on Facebook and Instagram tagging each other.

When they are done, they settled down on the comfort of sofa to enjoy their tea.

"I can't believe that you and Sasha are leaving soon!" Malini wailed sadly.

"We are going to miss you!" cried Shanti.

"Well, thank God for latest technology and social media, we can keep in touch with each other," Sasha said, sipping her tea. "Father wanted me to come earlier but I didn't want to, because I want to spend some time with you all,"

"Aww," the girls awed.

The girls chatted for another hour before Nadia's mother called her, informing her that she and her father had come to collect her. Nadia got up. They are going to leave Colombo to go and visit Nadia's mother's relatives in Kandy so she can spend some days visiting her favorite cousins and grandmother.

"Girls, I have to go, I am going to Kandy tomorrow early morning," Nadia said getting, though secretly, she wished she can spend some time with her best friends. She wasn't sure if she would be able to visit them, what with after visiting Kandy, it will be a whirlwind of last minute packing and shopping and visiting some more relatives in the city.

The girls got up, hugged each other, promising to keep each other in touch, wherever in the world they will be.

Day 2-4

Grandma was sad that Nadia was leaving and she thinks Nadia was too young to go somewhere far for the university. But luckily for Nadia, her aunt lives in the U.S. though she lives in California while Nadia will be studying in Ohio but at least, during the short holidays, Nadia can live with her aunt in California. And Nadia's mother assured Grandma that both Nadia's parents will be going to the U.S. to help Nadia settle down.

Grandma then took Nadia to the Sacred Tooth Temple, one of the sacred Buddhist temples in the country. Every time Nadia visits Kandy, she and her mother made sure to visit the temple to pay their respects to Lord Buddha by offering flowers for a blessing. That day, luckily for Nadia, it wasn't very crowded--with some tourists and locals lurking around the temple, Nadia and her grandmother, spent some time in the temple, placing lotus flowers and lighting incense sticks, offering prayers and Grandma asking for a blessing to Nadia for her stay in U.S. Then Grandma had brought in a woman who could make traditional Sinhala sweets--konda kawum, kokis and mung kawun, the smell of frying kawum and kokis lingering in the air. Grandma usually allows Nadia to have only one of each but since she wouldn't be able to have them when she moves to the U.S. And all of a sudden, her excitement turned into sadness at the prospect of missing her grandmother and her delicious Sinhala sweets.

And on the final day of her visit in Kandy, Nadia spend the whole afternoon at her cousin, Malka's house, which was only a walking distance from her grandmother's house. Malka and Nadia watched some Hindi movies, singing along the songs, imitating the actresses and cooing over the hot good looking actors. Malka is going to a local university to study medicine so at least, she doesn't have to move somewhere thousands of miles away from her family.

For the first time, Nadia, didn't want to leave Sri Lanka and move to Cincinnati. She wanted to remain in Sri Lanka, so she could visit her relatives whenever she wanted to and could spend an entire afternoon with her grandmother. But of course, she had no choice. She wanted the days to go slowly as possible.

Final days

Is Nadia really ready to leave? She was excited to start college. But suddenly, she was getting homesick, even though she hasn't left the country yet. She was going to miss the unruly traffic congestion in the streets of Colombo. She was going to miss people breaking the road rules by crossing randomly on the street instead of crossing on the yellow lines. She was going to miss eating her favorite string hoppers with dhal curry, spicy chicken curry with spicy coconut flaked sambol. She was going to miss listening to the series of old Hindi songs her mother always played on the radio whenever she was cleaning the house or sewing. She was going to miss riding in a trishaw, the wind whipping her hair as the trishaw dangerously drove in between the other vehicles, with her heart beating fast, worried that there might be an accident. She was going to miss talking in Sinhala, her mother tongue. She was going to miss her mother's cooking mostly. She was going to miss her monthly visit to Kandy to visit her grandmother, and their trip to the Sacred Tooth Temple in Kandy. She was going to miss the beach--the warm sandy beaches with coconut trees around, the feel of the ocean water on her feet, splashing on her feet. She knows there is no beach in Ohio but her aunt had assured her that there are beaches in California. She was going to miss watching some Sinhalese TV shows, especially her favorite drama that aired every week at eight at night.

She was going to miss and right now homesickness is enveloping her.

The day of leaving.

The suitcases were piled up in the living room and the driver was taking the suitcases one by one to the car. Her mother was checking everything in her bag.

"I have passports, Nadia, have you got your forms to show the immigration officer?"

"Yes Amma," Nadia said as her mother had asked her hundredth time.

"They will be checking while we are transiting in Dubai," Nadia's father said.

Nadia looked around the house. Her cat, Mia was sleeping peacefully on the sofa, unaware that Nadia was leaving for good. She softly patted her cat's head.

"I'll see you next year in summer," Nadia promised, as she was planning to come back to Sri Lanka next year for summer.

Her father glanced at her and smiled. "Come on Nadia, we should now head off to the airport,"

While her parents locked the house and her mother calling at the last minute to her sister, Nadia's aunt who will be looking after the house and the cats and dogs while they are away from two weeks, Nadia got into the car looking at the house. Her parents got into the car a few minutes later and Nadia continued staring at the house as the driver drove away from the house.

August 01, 2020 14:52

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