Article by Youssra Koudia
Life is all about experiences. We do things, we make mistakes, we regret or become proud, we fall or we succeed. But eventually, we learn from every experience. If life were easy, it wouldn’t be worth living. The most exciting thing is when you try something for the first time. We always keep the first memory in a very special place because it holds a lot of past expectations. And I can’t tell you how many premieres I experienced recently in my life, from the first time I came here three months ago, the first time I did my grocery shopping, the first time I went on a date, to the first time I experienced the fall of snow. Up to now, my experience has been full of wonderful surprises. I enjoy every single memory I keep. And if I had to go back in time, I wouldn’t change a thing about this whole period of my life. This is the story of my life, my story with first times.
Three months ago, a young 17-year-old girl made the decision to come study in Canada. A dream come true! You know when you dream about something that looks so huge and impossible to reach, and then you get the chance to realize it? That was my feeling. It felt so unreal, so fantastic! It felt good, really good. Of course, the fact that I had to leave all my family and friends was very hard to accept and live with. But inside me, I knew that they would always support me and be there for me. I could feel their presence in my heart and soul. And I knew that doing the right thing would take a lot of courage and strength. And that was a challenge for me.
The day of my flight, I saw — for the first time during my whole existence — my dad crying. It ripped my heart into pieces. I felt that the dream that me made so happy made the people who mean the world to me frustrated and melancholic.
That morning, I was getting prepared in my room when my sister came in. We didn’t need to talk. Our eyes communicated. I hurried to her to hug her, and then whispered, “I’m afraid it’s not the right thing for me.” It was the first time I ever thought about that, or admitted it. I was afraid of the unknown surprises that the future held for me.
She didn’t answer, but I felt her heart beat and it made me feel comfortable, as if our hearts were uniting.
I knew why I was doing all this. I took a deep breath and said, “This is my dream. I fought for it my whole life. I can’t back out now. I need to go for it. This is a life time experience. This is my chance to shine. And I’m going to take the chance life is offering me.”
She said, “Always do what you’re afraid to do. I know you’ll be just fine. I trust you.”
That was the fuel that made me feel really good about this whole thing — about leaving everyone and everything I’m comfortable with and going for a scary and unpredictable experience.
When I left the room, I looked at my mom. Her eyes were full of tears. I smiled at her and said, “Please don’t be sad. And don’t worry, you’ll always be in my heart.” When her face brightened with a warm smile, I felt that the whole universe was by my side, supporting me.
When we went to the airport, the time with my family was up, but I felt something inside me comforting me. I knew they were happy for me despite the sadness in their souls. As I walked through the doors, I looked for the last time at my parents, sister and brother. I felt the heaviness of all those million miles that would separate me from them, even though they were still standing just a few feet away from me.
But life goes on. I walked towards the bus driving us to the airplane, and that moment — that exact moment — I knew that my journey officially began. I walked on the plane stairs for the first time, met the air hostess, looked for my seat and looked through the window. It felt so good, yet unreal. It felt magical and I loved it. Of course, I didn’t enjoy the eight hour flight. I was looking forward to arriving. The excitement grew! When we finally flew over Canada, I couldn’t keep myself from looking through the window and smiling. After what seemed like ages, we landed.
“Welcome to Montreal,” said a friend I met on the plane.
I smiled at her and hurried to the door. I hopped off the plane with a cardigan in my hand and a dream in my heart. I was very excited to see everything everywhere. I got into the cab that drove me to my new house, and couldn’t stop turning right and left to make sure I didn’t miss a thing. It was a chilly night. The lights were resplendent and the skyscrapers were breathtaking. It was stunning. Even though all my exhaustion and tiredness vanished, I went to my new home to rest since it was very late. And starting the next morning, I experienced a succession of first times: taking the metro, eating poutine (which I loved by the way), talking to strangers sitting next to me, visiting the city, taking care of myself, cooking, running errands… all of that. It got crazy at a certain point, but I enjoyed and still am enjoying my new life.
What I realized is that I didn’t just experience new activities, but also new feelings and emotions. I mostly felt lost but brave enough to face anything. Sometimes, I felt sad and homesick, but thinking about how many years I dreamed about coming here made it worth every pain and happiness.
I had a dream. And when it was time for me to go for it, I hesitated. Now I understand why. Now that I realised that I gave up a lot of things for my dream — things that were dear to my heart that I took for granted at the time, things I never knew how valuable they were until I lost them. Now, I realize that not only am I facing the world alone, but I am also evolving from a very shy and introverted person to an outgoing fun lover. But at my core, I’m still the same free spirit everyone has always known. I had to fall down a bunch of times, but it was okay because I was and I still am learning. Experiencing some things made me realize that letdowns are what make a life. That’s how I build my memories. And what my journey taught me up until to now is that I should always dream big. I allow myself to dream about things that take a lot of hard work and many sacrifices to get to. Because what I’ve learned is this: that when your dreams come true, it’s worth every sacrifice made to achieve them.