Today is my 17th year living in the United States. I am proud to call the USA my country now. Almost two years ago, I became a US citizen. Watch my US Citizenship experience during Covid.
I thank God for where I’m today. But like with everything else in life, you gotta know what you want and why you want it. In this post, I’ll share my story of how I came to this country. Hopefully, my story will inspire you to work hard on achieving your own dream.
Borrowing from Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, my dream was to go to the United States when I was very young. It started with a dream, a plan, and persistent duas throughout my life in Malaysia.
I didn’t know the term dream duas when I was younger, I learned it later on in my life from the program called, ‘Visionaire’ created by the late Shaykh Muhammad AlShareef (ra). However, after taking the program I realized that I was actually making my own duas when I was younger. For example, I wanted to move to the United States someday and I was very persistent in my duas. I also took action to prepare myself to move to the United States.
I made a very specific goal. I wanted to go to the United States and live in the city of Los Angeles close to Hollywood.
Why I wanted to go to the US
Let’s put it this way. Anything that happens in your life is already written for you. As a Muslim, I believe what I went through was already written for me by God. While I could be just satisfied with the life I was living back in Malaysia, God put this desire to do more in my life since I was young.
The American Accent
I want to go back to when I was a little girl, probably around 8 years old. My parents watched a lot of American TV shows. If you remember the Waltons or The Little House on the Prairie, that was how I was exposed to the English language and the American accent.
Even though I didn’t speak English, I learned English because my parents spoke English. My mother went to an English convent school. I was always good at English spelling. The irony is I didn’t converse in English until I finished secondary school (high school in the US). I spoke English for the first time when I went for a Malaysian Airlines air stewardess job interview.
When I became a teenager I was exposed to more American tv shows and music. My desire to go to the United States became stronger.
Plan to Study at an American university
In my first semester in college, I was inspired by my college lecturers who had graduated from overseas universities. I made it my goal to continue my studies at an American university someday. I studied hard in college so I could get a place in a US university for my bachelor’s degree.
After I graduated from college with a Diploma in Executive Secretaryship, I worked as a Secretary. While working, I decided to work on my art because I didn’t get the chance to study art in college. I worked full-time as a secretary and at the same time, I brushed up on painting portraits. From friends and colleagues at work, I suddenly had a side business painting commissioned portraits.
Even though I got a place in one of the universities in the United States, sadly, I couldn’t get a scholarship due to the economic downturn in 1997. On a side note, one of the universities that I applied to was Pepperdine University. I had the opportunity to see the university a few years ago.
That led me to go back to my former college/university to study for a Bachelor’s Degree.
During this time, I didn’t have any support from my family. I had to juggle three different responsibilities on my own. I worked a full-time day job to support myself, studied part-time at night, and worked on my portrait commission business.
Running away from pain
During my first year in college, my mom suddenly died. It was the most difficult time in my life. To make matters worse, my dad remarried. My life was turned upside down.
Indeed, God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.
I wanted to change the condition that I was in. I wanted to be away from my family problems and the pain of feeling unloved.
I wanted to study overseas.
I made a promise to myself that if I got the opportunity to continue my studies in the US, I would never come back to Malaysia. Looking back, I thank God I didn’t achieve that goal or else I wouldn’t have spent time with my father. He died just after we reconnected.
This made me stronger in my goal to leave the country. Oftentimes, I had a little talk with myself about why I was tested this way. I mean, I didn’t know then what I know now, that everything that I went through (and still do) in life was to prepare me to be a stronger and a better person.
I met the love of my life
When I met my husband, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. To cut a long story short, after we got married we both had to go back to our jobs and studies. We stayed far apart for 5 years. I was in Melaka and he was in Los Angeles.
My life was complete when we welcomed the birth of our first baby. However, the process for our baby and me to enter the US took some time. It was a long wait. But I had faith and I put my trust in God that someday I will get to go to the United States.
Many people didn’t believe in my dream
Even though I was already married to my husband, some people were skeptical that I would ever move to America.
One coworker said, ‘You can’t go to the US. It’s hard to enter the country.’ But I thought to myself that didn’t make sense, I just got married to an American.
Another time, I had just got back from the US Embassy from my spousal visa interview and my visa application was approved. A family member warned me to be careful when I’m at the immigration checkpoint. They might deny my entry to the country. That didn’t make sense to me because I would be traveling with an approved visa and a US citizen, my son.
Instead of making dua, they doubted me.
I was determined to make my goal come true. Why not? I become even more focused on my goal to go to America.
My dream came true, at last…
Despite what everyone was saying, I believed that my dua would be manifested. I finally arrived in the US on March 4, 2006. My dream came true for me and I’m so thankful to God and felt blessed that I finally made it! When you pray to God it’s only Him that can fulfill your dreams.
My parents had passed away. I found that I had no reason to live in Malaysia. I made a conscious decision to move to a different country someday. I was willing to give up my life in Malaysia and live in a foreign country.
I know it’s not going to be easy, but I don’t want to regret living a life that I don’t want or worse yet, live someone else’s dream, or just go along with what society tells you to do.
I planned to go to the US to continue my studies. But God had a different plan. I came to the US as a wife of a US citizen.
But you want to know what’s really valuable to me about moving to the US? Two years after I moved to this country, God guided me and my husband to practice Islam wholeheartedly. Read about my rediscovery of my Islamic faith.
If you have a dream that you really want to make come true, pursue it now. Don’t wait. Go for it. Make your life’s journey worth telling to your grandchildren.
What did you learn from my story? What hardships have you gone through and overcome? I would love to know and connect with you.