I have always been a shy girl. It was one of the characteristics I couldn't get unlearnt in spite of my mom and other family members' subtle hints. Yet at school they called me "Aska the Shy" (even though my real last name was completely different). I didn't want to fight against it though because the life in my own little world wasn't as horrible as others might have thought.
However, the day I had to make my own decisions has come quickly. It was a couple of years after I had arrived in the United States. I had to leave Poland because there was no other way for me to survive. In spite of having graduated from a good university and obtaining a Bachelor's Degree, I wasn't given many opportunities in Poland to find a good job and become a good citizen. I could either stay in my home village and vegetate on my parents' farm along with my extended family or take advantage of my cousin's invitation to the United States and come here "for vacation." Such foreign vacations very often extend in time; for me they have been lasting for the last four years and they may last for the rest of my life... who knows?
I met him at my college where I was an international student mastering my English. I have lived in the US for a year or so when I realized that living without an American college degree in the United States was not a very good idea. I could, of course, try to get an official recognition of my foreign degree, but I came to a conclusion - after a few conversations with some knowledgeable people - that it would be too time-consuming and ineffective. His name was Peter and he came to the States on a student's visa. In general, I was surprised not only he decided to start learning in a college, but he was also determined to finish it, which was not very popular step in such situations (many people were trying to get a student's visa just to make some money and come back to Poland after some period of time). He seemed to be different because he was focused on his goals and followed the planned route despite the fact that as an international student he had to pay a full tuition. We met in class during an English course. It was a "Business English" class, winter term. I was attracted to him right from the very beginning since he's got too long hair and three day's stubble. He looked a little neglected and tired, but he apparently didn't care about it. He was sitting in one desk along with... three other girls who liked his presence. I think it wasn't his idea to sit with them; I found out later they simply knew he was smart and they thought he would help them pass the final exams. I didn't care about this at all, for I wasn't ready for any relationship then (work, work...).
I changed my mind on the third class. Peter came over to me without any hesitation, sat in front of me and... started to stare at my eyes. I was stunned. I couldn't imagine how a strange man who has never talked to me or even looked at me could have a nerve to put me in such a situation! My anxiety didn't last long though. His look - full of warmth and goodness - made me keep my temper. He was funny - it was in his look and contagious smile. My instinct told me he has something more inside that he wants to show to the world. It intrigued me completely. That's why on the second day when he called me I didn't hesitate too long to have a date with him.
I know, I broke my own promise not to date anyone as long as I finish my studies. However, I felt I may not have a second chance in the near future because I thought I knew the American reality where people tend to change "for worse." Peter didn't change and I felt he would stay like that for good.
I only hope it will be like that really for good..
Natalie from Chicago