I study interior design, and I love it. It’s been my interest since I was a little girl—I used to draw maps for our house and go to my dad like “ok, let’s move this wall there to make this room bigger.” I loved it so much. Dealing with furniture is something I really love also. My major is so demanding. I have to spend a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of effort in it.
I graduated high school in 2006. My dad had graduated college from the states, too, from Florida State University. He wanted us to get a better education, me and my brothers. He wanted us to seek challenges and the experience of being out of town. So we went first to England, to an English Institute in the city of Cambridge. After that we were looking for college acceptance wherever… and then I got homesick.
I wanted to go home so bad, especially since a holiday was coming closer. In our religion, we have different holidays. It was Eid al-Fitr. You know how we have a month that we fast, Ramadan? It comes right after Ramadan. All my friends went back home and I was over there, alone. My brothers were always busy with their friends, and I felt homesick and wanted to go back so bad. My dad was going through some financial stuff since he was paying for our schools (living abroad is not really cheap), and I have three other sisters who were living back home with him. He said “if I bought the tickets for you guys to come back home, I can’t send you back again.” And I was like “I don’t care, I just want to go home!”
So we went back home, and I got a job and was in a local college for business. I was there for one semester, and my dad was like “no, I want you to be abroad.” He got us acceptance at a college in Canada, in a city called Nanaimo, and we went there in 2009. I met my husband there. We went back home, had the wedding, and after we got married we decided to move to the States. We wanted to find a university that has both of our majors at the same university.
He was doing his Bachelor in mechanical engineering, now he is doing his Master’s here. We were applying everywhere—in Canada and in the States. My cousin was here at UNT and was recommending it, like “you will love it, you have to be here! Our interior design program is really exciting, and you have to come!”
We got our acceptance really fast, like in a week, so we said “wow, ok, let’s go.”
When we came here, I was a little surprised that the city is so flat. Back home, and in Canada, and England, buildings were high. But here, everything was short, and the only building that was really high was the dorms. We thought they were apartments, so we went there and were like “can we get an apartment here?” And they said, “I’m sorry, this is a dorm.” It was so funny.
The day we came to Denton, the weather was not nice to us. There was a lot of hail, and it was my first time ever seeing hail that big. We were wandering around trying to find a place to stay. It was a challenge.
I had two kids while in school. One is a year-and-a-half now, and the other one is 3 months—born this semester. It’s really challenging, especially that we are far from home. Home is Saudi Arabia. Having those two kids was a surprise, but a lovely surprise–It’s about time, in our marriage. I have been married six years now. Before I had the kids, I would not see my husband for a week. I would be stay up late on campus and go to class. I would stay in the library 24 hours.
Finding out I was pregnant was so stressful. It was my portfolio year—I had to make a portfolio so they would accept me in the interior design program. And I was pregnant with my first baby. I was not sick much but I was super emotional and tired. It would take more time to finish projects when I was pregnant because I was so exhausted and wanted to sleep, and I would fall asleep while I was working. My teachers were really nice about it. They were calming me down and helping me.
The department, they were so helpful. I really thank them so much, especially Cynthia, the chair of the department. When I had my first child, I was stressing about being in school while I have a kid, and she was so supportive and gave me one of the offices in the department so I could breast pump there and not have to go to another building. I would spend a lot of time over there, and so she gave me one of the offices they were not using much. Whenever I was there I would ask her to open the room for me and then I’d give her the key back.
My kids are so cute… I love them. But I feel so bad that I’m not spending enough time with them. I’m always on campus. Thank God I’m almost done. I’m looking for jobs right now, but I would prefer to stay at home just a little bit to relax because I’ve been jumping from one school to another since 2007.
The homesickness comes and goes. I feel like when it comes toward the end of my degree, I feel like “yes, I want to go back now,” especially that there are a lot of things going on back home that I’m far away from—my cousin is getting married, my grandfather passed away while I was still here… and I’m away from all of that. It’s hard to miss everything.