rather than tell you my life story. Kirkuk, a city of 1 million people, is where I saw the world for
my first time. It is a city rich in oil in Kurdistan-Iraq, also called the “black gold city.” Those are
all nice facts but it still is not the best place to spend your entire life, there is plenty of corruption,
political and security issues, etc. Because of this, I dreamed of coming to the United States to
study, and that dream came true.
October 12, 2011, 12 AM, it was a chilly night in Erbil city (Kurdistan’s capital city). I
had never felt so excited before in my life. I had spent 2 days shopping for this moment. The
people travelling consisted of me and Juliet, a colleague and a friendly, mature girl, whom I
was supposed to meet at the airport main gate that night. One of my best friends, “Sarkawt”,
helped me get a taxi to the biggest airport in the hopefully growing region in north Iraq. “Call
me as soon as you have chance to, take care of yourself,” Sarkawt said, with his usual smile in
such situations, although his true meaning is questionable. The taxi was waiting for me. “Sama!”
as only my close friends and family call me. “Get in the car now! There is no time to waste.”
When the taxi started moving, I heard somebody yelling, “Do not forget gate and terminal
numbers,” I was glad that the taxi driver seemed like he had never heard of those English terms!
I gave my friend a last victory gesture from the taxi window; however, I was worried about
losing my way to the terminals and gates. So, I held the flight confirmation letter tightly in my
hand, as a small kid would do. I believed that it would help me. Although the airport is only
about 10 minutes from the city downtown, the taxi driver asked for more than the usual ride cost.
Most people there have never traveled by plane in their entire life. Some of them still detesting
planes because of the genocides history where they were the main element in which hundreds of
thousands of Kurdish activists and civilians lost their lives by Iraqi and sometimes Turkish air
forces. The newly constructed airport lights flashed into my eyes at 12:30 am. I had to wait for
Juliet to see her family, then we would depart to the same country for the same purpose, studying
abroad in the USA.
The first thing I did after arriving in Kent was do a presentation about the stages of
culture shock. It was the most interesting presentation I had ever given. I saw my classmates
in the ESL center paying close attention, and I had noticed some of them sleeping in the class
before I started, which made me assume that most of them might have some issues with culture
shock. My presentation was mostly presenting my own personal experience coming to the USA.
After that, I was ready to start my major with more trustful English language skills, and to have a
more enjoyable time with the new culture and people.
It was supposed to be another boring winter. Every year, as soon as that particularly thick
fog and white snow start covering the small city of Kent (aka “college town”) most inhabitants
and students start spending most of their free time indoors, watching TV shows, sleeping, or just
trying to wake up! But that winter in 2011 was abnormal for the relatively quiet city located right
in the northeast section of Ohio. My friend Rasti said, “really, I like it!” I asked, with a curious
look, “why?” He replied with a serious face, “last year was the most severe winter season I have
ever seen. You will feel what freezing weather means." I knew winter usually started very early
in this part of the country, and I interrupted him as I always do, “remember it is also snowing and
cold in a typical winter in Kurdistan too, don’t you remember that? Take it easy, my friend," I
told him with a surprised...