Saturday, November 11, 2006

Part XIX. The life of a student

Depending on where you end up, your life as a student will differ from a place to another. Even in a place like America, such life will also be different from one person to another. Mine probably was very similar to many who came from the same background I came from.

There were three types student lives in my opinion. One represented those who came from a rich family, where they owned cars and nice apartments in downtown. Another is those poor students who dad sold his land to be able to send his son/daughter to study abroad. And the typical one is that of those who simply worked and studied on their own.

When I set foot in America, I had a decent support from my family. Lets just say that I didn’t have to work, but still, was living a simple life. But the environment I came to contained students who were working 50 hours, and studying. I was a little odd amongst them. And as peer pressure grew, I started following their life style.

We were four student living in one apartment that was located on top of a gay bar. All three were always at work, but I was alone in the apartment. That was ok anyway. It gave me the excuse to just walk in the street and know America. This life didn’t last too long of course as my dad was pushing me toward living in the dorm. So 4 months after I came to America, I moved to the dorm.

My life in the dorm was an interesting one that didn’t last too long. I now live in a building that contained boys and girls. The smell of alcohol was pretty strong. It was normal to see a boy and a girl expressing love in front of others. Again, I came from a society that didn’t have such views in public. Of course that also made me go crazy for such view that must have felt good for them, but for me as I was shy of girls.

I moved out of the dorm, against my dad’s will, and lived with another student who came from Kuwait. He was Palestinian. We were both not studying like students. This is was my first encounter with drugs “marijuana”. He would light one and smoke it while I watched him. It smelled pretty bad. I came so close to trying it, but pulled back very quickly. This was something I didn’t want to do, and luckily, never did in my entire life. Instead, I relied on alcohol to enjoy myself. I eventually moved out when he stole some money from me.

I then hooked up with 2 palestinians, and a Jordanian living in an apartment. It was 2 bedrooms. This was probably the best roommates I ever had, and this lasted for almost a year. They were poor, simple, and did study. The two Palestinian muslims were drinkers, yet, the Christian Jordanian was not. So we were 3 muslims and a Christian. It was an interesting life I think. We had lots of fun as a group. We cooked meals like home, and we took cloths to the laundry place just like families. Our group grew bigger as we started connecting with others like our own “kind”. On weekends, we would gather, almost 10 of us, and get in one of the apartments, and cook big meal. Try to visualize this with me. On one weekend, we decided to cook a “magloobah”. So we got the chicken, the rice and the needed vegetables. We prepared the ingredients and fried the vegetables as well as the chicken, then got one of those big cooking pots, and simply cooked. It smelled good. When the meal was done, it was time to flip the pot upside down on a big dish. We discovered that we don’t have a big dish. So, the only option was to simply take the food directly from the pot. But we wanted it to be a truly “magloobah” and that means it has to be flipped on a big pan. That’s when the engineering minds started to think. So, we got a roll of aluminum foil, and as you know, it is about 40 cm wide rolls or that sort. We cut pieces, laid them next to each other, connected the sheets, and now we have an aluminum foil sheet that is about 1 by 1 meters. We flipped the pot on this sheet, and simply gathered around and started eating.

Cooking was a quiet experience for us. Strange meals started to appear, depending on what was available. We cooked on weekends, while dined out on weekdays. I remember the time when I tried to cook pasta. I placed the pasta in cold water, and started cooking. But the pasta was almost melting, and the color was changing. A quick call to mom and I knew that I made a mistake. Or the time when we tried to make stuffed cabbage. The cabbage wouldn’t hold on, and the rice was going allover the pot. We ended up eating something that tasted like stuffed cabbage, but didn’t quiet look like one. Heck, we even did a whole roasted lamb that really came out pretty good. So that helped me to enjoy cooking, as well as eating. I had to learn how to cook. Or else, I would melt in the hamburger world, which becomes boring after few weeks.

I didn’t know how to drive, so one of my friends showed me how to drive. He had a stick shift car. It all started when he wanted to sell it, so I bought it for $300. Now I have a car, but don’t know how to drive. It was a 1976 Honda civic, which meant that it was 15 years old. So I learned how to drive, finally, and after 3 trials, I got my drivers license. It was my beautiful car, although one light was only working, and 3 months later, the first gear was broken, so I had to start on the second gear. Still, I enjoyed driving it, and did put up with flippers flying toward me from the passing cars. It broke on me a year later, but do have good memories in that car. My second car was a trans-am that looked like the knight rider car. That only lasted less than a year after I made the mistake of letting friends to borrow it. I went through other cars that last for few months, and so on.

Then there are those bad times, where I was hurt pretty bad financially. Days when I gather coins and go to the corner supermarket and buy a can of corned beef for $2 and a loaf of bread for a dollar. That would last me all day. Or when I was beaten pretty bad when I was walking from school toward the bus station at 8 pm in a snowy night. Although I gave them my money and watch, still, those bastard enjoyed beating me up. A scar that is under my chin is still a reminder for that night.

It was very difficult to obtain good friends in America, especially amongst students. There is a hefty price to pay to be able to screen good friends from bad ones. Some stole from others, and some snitched on others to immigration or to teachers. But it was the price to pay. One day, I lend a friend some money, not much, but it was a good amount. He promised to pay me back in 2 weeks once he gets paid. Well, 2 weeks go bye, and others follow, and I never seen the money. I then was in a very bad financial situation where I seriously didn’t have money to eat. We couldn’t get credit cards back then as students. So I was with friends in this Arabic social club. I managed to get a free cup of tea there when one of my friends offered me one. Of course no one knew I didn’t have not one cent in my pocket, nor the bank account. Then this friend shows up, and I felt relief that finally, I’ll dine in a restaurant tonight. I approached him, and he told me that he didn’t have any money yet. I went back feeling depressed that how can I be that poor, and I used to live in a fancy life in the UAE. I borrowed, and this was the first time I ever borrow money, from a friend of mine. Eventually, some friends knew of this, and they were angry at that guy. They then took me to show me how he was spending some time with his girlfriend in a restaurant. I rushed there, and saw him. I went to his table, and was really angry. He knew what was going on, and he quickly said “hey dude, I was looking fro you, I have your money now”. He was scared because he saw two guys with me, and he saw me very angry. That’s when I did something stupid. I told him that I didn’t need the money anyway, and he can keep it, but I wanted something else, and will get it. I knocked him off his chair, and swore to him that I’ll take his girl from him, while she was looking at me with a scared look. My friends rushed me out of the restaurant before the owner catches us. At any rate, he managed few weeks later to beat me up when I was caught alone. He was a big guy, and I was always tiny, and one on one, he would beat me up easily, and he did.

Bad decisions are a constant haunting for students in America. I came close to death twice in my life. Opps, let me change that to three please. I was working one day in a store, and this dude comes in, with a knife and demands the money. I hated the store owner, and wanted to give all the money for the guy. But my pride and foolishness was overwhelming. The guy comes around the counter, and sticks a knife on my back, that was sharp enough to hurt. He didn’t stab me, but just held the knife too tight on me. I tell you, this was scary for me. Maybe it wasn’t close to death, but to me, this was the first time I felt like that. Anyway, and after I opened the register for him, he knocked me on the floor, and stepped on my back threatening not to move, while he took the money. The second time was when I bought a gun. Don’t ask me why, it was just a cool thing. So I got the gun, and went to the basement of the house we were living in, and placed a can of Pepsi, then stood few feet away, and shot the gun. It felt good, but I missed the can of pop, even from such short distance. I tried again, and managed to hit the can. It felt good, so I started shooting my little 380 gun (it was small) until I heard a noise right next to my ear. It felt strange and felt like the sound of bullets in a western movie, but this was very close. Then I felt a little pain on my right ear. I go upstairs and see little bruise on my right ear. It was very red, and seems that the bullet slightly hit my ear. That’s when I knew I was so stupid to try a gun in a basement. The third one was when I was working the night shift and had to take pills that kept me awake. Then I felt nausea and fell down. The owner took me to the hospital, and discovered that the pills that I was taking were causing irregularity in the blood flow from the heart.

I can describe the life of a student in more details, but it will take so many pages to show what students go through. I saw many friends go through harsh times, and I wish I can talk about them, but can’t for their own privacy.

5 comments:

zaid m said...

(Days when I gather coins) .... i like that. it remind me of my self. i didn't know how to spend my money and end up like that. i have to admit that tell now i don't know how to :) i realy enjoy reading u bo3bo3.

Anonymous said...

What was it that made Great People persistent. Was it fear or reward. Somehow these great people left their imprint on the world that the majority of us cant or wont. This web site honors those alive and from the past who have had a impact on our lives, those few Heroes that make our live easier and less complicated.

Summer said...

good to read from you again! have a great weekend.

No_Angel said...

wow truly amazing ! this is my nostalgia blog, though I couldnt really relate to changing alot of roommates or living in a dorm (i could never handle it)

but I was around people like that, and went through pretty much most of what u talk about here.

and i thank you again since this has given me a small window of what could be coming my way :)

Bo3Bo3 said...

Zaid
Thanks dude..and i'm sure all students share the same stories. :)

Summer
you too..thanks.

no angel
looool hope that u be carefull..I wasn't, and I wish anyone could learn from such bad decisions, and avoide the stuff i fell into. this is why I'm writing, with all honesty, is to help others see how ugly it was, and avoide it. Best luck.