A Nomad In The Multiverse of Why

“Let’s walk.” This is what I said to my wife, my 8 years old son, and to my 5 years old daughter. I realized that the ride-sharing taxi had dropped us off at the wrong location. We stood in front of an abandoned rectangular two-story building, in the middle of a part of the Spartan Village complex that was planned to be demolished. As far as my eyes could see I didn’t find anyone except 2 deer which I thought were foxes that had scared my little family.  

We decided to leave all the luggage and started to walk seeking the actual apartment unit. It was snowy, slippery, 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and we only relied on a crumpled printed map. I thought it was only in the lyrics of a song, but at that time I really couldn’t feel my face. My son slipped and fell several times, but I emboldened him not to cry. We stopped a few times to make sure we weren’t going the wrong way. It takes about a 20-minute walk through a 0.6-mile cold snowy road to finally get to the actual apartment building. It felt so warm as soon as we entered the room. My old phone then was able to span the campus Wi-Fi signal –It’s like winning a lottery- and I could order another ride-sharing taxi to pick up my luggage.  

Beginning days at East Lansing were so challenging for me. I kept questioning myself about why those things happened to me, and even more in detail, why it had to happen when I needed stability. Why my daughter’s name was miss-typed on her international airplane ticket, why one of my baggage was left at the Chicago airport when in fact we tried to carefully count the number of suitcases, why my children’s tablets were left at the airport security checkpoint, and why did the ride-sharing taxi application direct me to the wrong point.  I entered the restroom, I continued questioning, why tissue?  

I let my feet rest while I looked around every corner of my new apartment and thought about what was next. The floor was dusty, the internet needed a router, and my US cellular number needed a compatible phone. I moved my desk next to the window so that my laptop could reach proper campus Wi-Fi. I opened a popular local groceries website, added-to-cart all the essential needs, and reviewed them several times before I decided to checkout. It was 7 PM, and I got to proceed since I expected those items to be delivered to my apartment by 10 PM. As I tried to pay with a hunch that all problems will be resolved, my Indonesian credit card was rejected. Ah… perfect. Why?  

***  

Nobody says that pursuing your dream will be easy, as nobody says that continuing your study in the United States would face no obstacles. On the other hand, I never heard anyone say about how challenging studying in the US and taking your family with you is. Oh, I forgot to add this: -while in the pandemic-. 

Do not get me wrong. Being a part of MSU (Michigan State University) and watching the snow fall in the city of East Lansing is my lifetime best accomplishment so far. There is a saying that a rainbow will only appear after the presence of rain, this is really a necessity.  

There are too many things I can mention how grateful I am at this moment, like, I am entering MSU just a moment it becomes the most popular campus on Netflix -it doubles my pride-. Why is the moment so perfect?  

I got emails and messages from faculty and second-year international graduate students. They asked me if I am doing and adapting well. I didn’t know something was missing until they informed me what I should expect. A small Indonesian community at East Lansing is also welcoming me and helping even before I ask for help. They brought me food, introduced me to all my local relatives, even helped me find a cheap but functioning car for me. Why do I deserve this kind of hospitality?  

The positivity and the vibes encourage me to start my year at MSU. I was about to doubt myself since the last time I went to college was a dozen years ago and English is not my native language. But as I tried to find a silver lining on why MSU accepts me as its student, and why my hometown government is willing to sponsor my college, I know that I am here not for no reason. I will not waste this opportunity.   

Forget the shyness and leave the doubts, I’m in America. In class, I’m free to ask questions when I’m in doubt. Answering the lecturer’s question even if it’s wrong won’t get me jailed either. I know that the class probably need more energy to understand my English, but I still feel like I’m going to be okay, because I know MSU is a great place to learn, one that values ​​diversity and guarantees all of that. I just need to be a fighter and it will take you as a part of a big family, with a burning passion, with a warm heart. Now I know why they are called Spartans.  

***  

Muhammad Syarif Mansur 

1/26/2022. MSU

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