This article is part of the 2023 International Student Perspectives Collection
I had read and heard of homeless people sleeping on the streets in alleyways and corners. Still, as I stood there that night freezing, I never imagined myself in one of those situations, even though everything pointed to that conclusion. The biting cold made my hands numb and hurt; my jacket wasn’t enough to warm but not too little that I might develop an illness. Is this what the universally proclaimed America was? I asked myself while pounding on the house door that held the warmth I craved. I knew I would freeze to death if I stood there any longer. As I had no option, I picked up my beautiful black suitcase, tightened my coat and set off for God knows where. I had the money and the technology. I just needed an internet connection before my American dream was realised. Would I end up homeless? Or find a blessed benefactor to take me out of this cold.
Coming to the United States of America was not the first thing on my bucket list. Still, when my parents told me about the “opportunity” they had come across, I told myself not to hope, for the more significant the hope, the bigger the disappointment. On February 2nd, 2022, my mother was told about an opportunity to travel abroad for students, which needed a simple application and some money, of course, but it was America. Who wouldn’t want to go? I agreed to go on with the process. I never really knew whether it was to make my mom happy or for myself. My application was successful, and I gained admission into three schools, all catholic, like I hadn’t had enough catholic schools for a lifetime. We knew that gaining access was the first hurdle, the second and third, and fourth were yet to come, and we were more or less ready for it.
I didn’t have a specific reason, but I chose Anna Maria college out of the three schools I got and decided to go with my dream major, anything that could get me into med school. After the admission came the struggle for a visa. I knew the country was great but isn’t it a little too much to go through all these processes to go to one place? The fear of failing to get the visa almost choked me as I stood before the American lady on the opposite side of the glass screen. I didn’t particularly fear being rejected for my own sake, but what would my family do if I didn’t get into America after all this struggle and hope? I knew I had the proper answers to her questions in my bag, but that was almost 10 miles away. Was it me answering those questions I had so confidently predicted and solved? I doubted the reality before my eyes. Calm down, I repeatedly told myself. I prayed and waited. She typed and typed and typed. Would she ever stop? Was she typing my rejection letter? Was all the struggle going to be for nothing?
The morning sun brought me a sense of unrealness and fantasy. It almost felt like I was in the movies I spent hours watching. I held on to the yellow card; the only proof I had of reality was the slip of the yellow card, which had the date and time I was to receive my passport with my visa stamped in. That and the statement that your visa has been approved. My family was ecstatic, as I should have been, but I couldn’t eliminate the gnawing feeling that there was more to do and that I shouldn’t be happy just yet. I had never been on a plane before, and that was something I looked forward to, and it allowed me to enjoy the happiness I was due. My last moments in Ghana were filled with memories of my parents and me laughing and advising ourselves and thanking God for such an incredible miracle. It was a miracle, too, for the most part, I guess.
We had moved to the capital for a while before my departure date, which was the 20th of December. We stayed in one of the most renowned neighbourhoods and enjoyed those last moments. I remember my dad telling me on one of those nights, “son, when you get to the US, study and work like you’re coming back to take care of Ghana.” As ridiculous as that sounded from my great and awesome dad, it was quite the most potent motivation I had ever received. I must admit I was going to miss this man and woman always behind me for every fall I took. Living alone was great, but family, even though almost always irritating, is the best thing anyone could ask for. On the 20th of December at exactly 8:30 am, we arrived at one of the largest airports in Ghana, the Kotoka international airport, where the giant bird which was going to take me away from my family strolled about. Passing through security was a breeze with my dad around. I felt like a kid during those times.
Finally, I reached a point my dad couldn’t follow, and I went my way to build my future. I kept looking back, catching glimpses of my dad with his hands raised, urging me on with a big smile till I couldn’t see him anymore. Then came the wait for the giant bird. “Have a safe flight”, the woman at the counter said with a smile after checking my papers. I was wearing a white t-shirt under a black hoodie and black jeans, on white sneakers. The only jacket I had was in my backpack, not because I couldn’t afford any but because we thought it would serve its purpose for a while before I got ones better suited for the weather we hadn’t experienced. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a window seat, but that was no inhibitor to the glorious sight outside of my country shrinking, my parents shrinking till I could see nothing but an ocean of clouds. I made a transit in Qatar, where I took the final plane to my destination, America. Did I know I would be on the streets freezing and hanging on to my dear single jacket for warmth? Of course not. I was happy that I finally felt like I was owed.
The morning of the 22nd hit me on a warm bed, with pleasant food aroma and sunlight. I did find a miracle and a blessed benefactor. My decision to walk was a good one. I went into the store that I saw open after walking for close to 20mins. The two older men in the store helped me get the internet connection I needed to contact my family and assure them of my safety. They also got me into a nice hotel for the night. The only reason they gave me was, “I don’t want your first impression of America to be a bad one”. My mom did tell me not to go into strangers’ cars, but I felt a sense of security from those two. I found an apartment online a day later with the help of a very good friend who was in the States and moved in on the 24th. Maybe it was a scary journey, but that didn’t matter because I would begin building my dream at Anna Maria College soon. All is well that ends well, I guess. My journey had only just begun!
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Andy Antwi Boasiako is a freshman health science major at Anna Maria College in Paxton,
Massachusetts. Originally from Kumasi, Ghana, Andy wants to pursue medical school after
graduating with the goal of becoming a Cardiac Surgeon. Andy serves as an Admissions
Ambassador, Peer Mentor, and Resident Assistant on campus. As an International student, Andy
serves as the general secretary for the International Student Association. Andy likes writing and
has his “own” style of writing. He is a member of the Church of Pentecost International