September 7 2016
It was a sunny September morning. I woke up early to take my kid to the kindergarten. I had that strange, indescribable butterflies in my belly. The Fulbright interview was over and they said they will contact me in a few weeks. It was too early to be excited, but I just couldn’t help but feel that something big is coming to my way today. I was listening to the song ‘New York – Empire State of Mind’ by Alicia Keys. I heard the sound of an email. ‘There’s no way that email could be from the US Embassy’ – I said to myself while slowly approaching my phone. Yes, that was the Embassy. Mr. Gazmend’s email and my mini heart attacks. My hands started trembling in attempt to open the most important email in my life.
Please allow me to congratulate you for your academic excellence and your motivation to continue your education with an academic experience in the United States. You have been nominated as finalist in the Fulbright Student Program.’
The song was still in the air. ‘…….Even if ain’t all it seems, I got a pocket full of dreams….’ Tears filled my eyes. I wasn’t aware what just happened. This is BIG! THIS IS HUGE! I will be a Fulbrighter! I started jumping and singing the song even more loudly… My dreams will come true! ‘Be realistic – plan for a miracle’! I planned for a miracle and my miracle is going to become a reality. Happiness overload! Can’t believe my eyes! I was reading and rereading the email over and over again just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming… It’s been 1 year and 3 months since I received that email but I’ can still feel the smell of hot coffee and I still remember every specific detail of that moment as I am writing this blog. I may forget the exact words that were in the email, but I will never forget how it made me feel…
It was a long year of studying, taking tests, gathering documents, working in three schools, a kindergarten, taking care of my family, preparing for the US trip and working on my MA thesis in Macedonia. I defended my thesis on July 9th in my hometown Struga. I was preparing that presentation in hospital. My boy was really sick and I had to stay with him for one week in hospital. Seven sleepless nights, a presentation to prepare and thesis to defend. Yeah, I can handle anything. I made it. That chapter was finished. Now it’s about time to get ready for a new beginning.
July 23, 2017
Friends and relatives were coming and going the entire day. They all came to say goodbye and wish us a nice trip. Some of them got emotional, some of them cried. I didn’t. I will miss them all but I felt that I was ready for the challenge ahead. We departed for New York on 23rd of July. As I said above, I never shed a tear when saying goodbye to my family and friends. My first emotional moment was hearing the flight attendant saying: ‘Ladies and gentlemen – welcome to New York!’
I got all emotional and started crying. ‘Calm down’ I said to myself, ‘Dreams do come true’. I got overwhelmed by becoming aware that we have arrived in the USA. In a few moments I will see my dearest sister. It’s been 2 and a half years since I haven’t seen my person. Yes, she’s my person and God I missed her soooo much. We landed. The moment is here. Welcome to the USA! It was crowded and we had no idea where to go. Just dragging the big suitcases and following the crowd. Oh dear, there she is.. there’s my sister… I couldn’t stop crying… Hugging her and kissing her all over her face… she’s here and she’s for real! My brother in-law was holding a bouquet of flowers, a new phone and a balloon with the title ‘Welcome Home’