Written by *Anonymous
Lying in a tool shed, in 100 degree Texas heat, I started contemplating whether I should turn myself in to the police, and maybe they could make arrangements to send me back to Kenya.
I had lived in Dallas Texas, for six months, and by May 2010, I was alone.
I arrived in Dallas in January 2010, on a student visa, and I was ready to experience the wonders of America. My relatives who lived in Dallas took me to visit a few malls, restaurants and nightclubs. I knew I had truly made it to the land of milk and honey.
Little did I know that the milk would soon turn sour and the honey bitter as my life in America took a turn for the worse.
January 19, was my first day at the University I had enrolled in. It was beautiful and bigger than I had imagined. I was two weeks late, and the semester had started, so I had to play catch up and in no time I got into the flow of things or at least that is what I thought.
Within the first few days of school it became clear that I couldn’t stay with my relatives, the drive to school was too far for them, so they found student apartments near the school which became my first apartment.
My first apartment
Little did I know that I would share an apartment with students who indulged in smoking cannabis. In addition, the apartment was filthy odor abound, cleaning up was not on the list of their priorities. I spent most of my time in my room. The cost of living at the apartment began to put a strain on my finances. I didn’t have a job, and my parents could not afford to send money to me on a regular basis.
The next issue I had to deal with was transportation to school. I had to depend on the school bus which proved to be unreliable as I still had to walk a few miles to make it to school on time. I later bought a bicycle in the hope that it would make my daily commute easer, but with the cold weather I often found myself shivering and drenched in sweat when I got to school
Failing my classes
March 2010, I received an email from the school administration informing me that I was failing my classes. This came as a surprise to me as I had attended every class and did all the work assigned. It was then I learnt about something called “blackboard.” It is an online tool that teachers use to give students homework and assign discussion topics. Once again I found myself playing catch up so that I could improve my grade.
I was homesick
I missed my friends back in Kenya, and home cooked meals. I wasn’t a good cook, so I often found myself eating fast food until it became too expensive.
I hated my life in America, my accent made it difficult for me to make friends at school. The handful of Kenyans I knew where to busy with their lives and I was nothing but a mere inconvenience to them. I often found myself sitting in my room, lost in my thoughts feeling sad and depressed.
May 2010, I received an eviction notice; I was a month behind on my rent. I was broke and my parents weren’t able to send money to me as they were under the impression that I should have been able to get a job. They didn’t understand that getting a job as an international student, on or off campus, was harder than most people imagined.
I tried to reach out my relatives that lived in Texas, but after many unanswered phone calls and emails I realized I was all alone.
The tool shed
On a hot summer day, with my a few belonging, I took shelter in the apartment complex tool shed storage.
The heat was excruciating, it was at least 100 degrees outside, and I spent the night in my boxer shorts unable to sleep contemplating my next move.
With a gallon of water and a can of beans, I spent the longest three nights in the tool shed.
I was lucky to find some friends who let me live with them for a few months, until I was able to get back on my feet
To be honest, it was the help of strangers who later became my friends that I was able overcome the obstacles I had encountered.
My American dream was that I would go to school, find a job and enjoy my life. But the reality of it is that I am lucky to get more than five hours of sleep a night.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know it couldn’t get any worse than the summer of 2010.
*Anonymous used to protect the identity of the storyteller
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