35 minutes | Jul 31, 2020

How One International Student is Handling Stress

In this episode of the Journey Coaching Podcast, Beza, Sarah and Terry discuss what it took for Beza to handle the stress of not only being an international student, but also upending her life as she knew it and adjusting to an entirely new culture. A truly inspiring story of a young woman who bravely carried the weight of immense change, culture shock and racism along with all of life’s daily stressors and managed to find growth and love in the process. Beza: I think the one thing I didn’t do well, the first few months was like, I suppressed everything. I was feeling, even my brother’s friend would come and he was “like, you used to be so nice the first few months you were here”, I just pretended that I was just really happy. But I think it’s good to tell people how you’re feeling and express, yes I’m feeling a culture shock. I’m feeling like I don’t belong. Terry: Welcome back to the Journey Coaching podcast, where we care deeply about real and authentic relationships. This is Terry, your host, and I have sitting with me today, a couple of really important people in my life. I have, Beza, who is my adopted granddaughter and my own daughter, Sarah. Say hello, both of you I’m excited about this conversation. We wanted to kind of cover the topic of stress, and I wanted someone who was from a younger generation to kind of come in and talk about stress. Cause there’s different types of stress in the different types of generations. And I was really hoping, Beza, that you would talk a little bit about the stresses that you’ve dealt with in your life, especially in relationships. Because I know that relationships can be a source of stress as much as they can be a way to cope with stress in healthy  relationships. What I’d like to do is I’d like to go back to maybe one of the big stressors that you had. You actually came over here from Ethiopia when you were 16. You and your younger brother got on the plane all by yourselves. I know that you also had to go to the embassy over there and get permission to come over and get your visas and all that stuff. And that was not an easy process. That was probably a huge source of stress.  Beza: Definitely.  Terry: Anything that you want to talk about specifically? What were some of the stressors you had in that whole process?  Beza: Well, it started, so, okay. So you mentioned how we had to go to the embassy three times. That was one of the biggest ones I think is just the fact that there’s a person deciding your fate, and they have this power to say, yes, you can get an education  Terry: abroad. That was one of your main reasons to come over here, is you really wanted to have an education here.  Beza: Definitely.  The education and also the living situation at home wasn’t that great either. So, um, Yeah. The biggest stress was trying to get my visa and my brother’s visa at the same time. Cause they kept telling us it was, seemed like an adoption. The third time we got it. Thank God.  Terry: Yeah, because each time they would say no. They denied it. And then you’d have to go back and redo the paperwork and try to answer the problems that they didn’t think were solved.  Beza: Yes. Yes. And it was really like stressful because you had to be dressed a certain way so they know that you’re serious about it. Cause if you wore the certain clothes, then you wouldn’t get accepted. It was just very overwhelming, but we passed through it. Another thing that really stressed me out was leaving my family behind, and my friends.  Terry: Yeah.  Beza: I remember, I was telling Sarah the other day, how I didn’t tell my best friend and I was going until the day I got my visa. Because her and I have like a really strong relationship, and I really did not want to leave her. And when we got denied so many times, I just didn’t want to tell her that I was coming and then. Terry: Did she know you were trying to go? Beza: She didn’t.  Terry: So it was a total surprise to your best friend?  Beza: Yes.  Terry: Oh my gosh.  Beza: She bawled when I told her. I feel bad, but it’s just, it was really hard for me because she was going through some things in her life at the time. And like she said that I was the only person she had. Saying that I’m leaving you at your worst time really was really hard for me. And I did not know how to tell her. Even the day I told her, I remember I was like crying. I was like, sorry.  Terry: You came right after the visa, within a week or something? So she didn’t have a long time to get used to it. You didn’t have a long time to get used to the idea. Beza:  No, and we didn’t even finish the whole summer together. I didn’t get to spend the whole summer with her because of the whole cultural thing, you know, that’s another topic.  Sarah: Let me jump in here and explain, like, we’re talking about stress. Like the stress that this young lady has dealt with is the fact that when she, when Beza mentioned that these people have your future in their hands, they really, really do. She and Nathan did not know where they were going to be, what country and what family they were going to be in. Terry: They had met you. They had met you.  Sarah: Yes, because of my travels to Ethiopia, they had met me and they had met Matt, my husband, but they didn’t know. And it was all up to whether the embassy said yes or no. And they said no. And then they said no, and we were going to try one more time. We really didn’t know if it was going to work or not. It was a matter of, school was getting ready to start. And they were coming here on student visas and, was it a yes? Was it a no? And if it was a yes, they had to pack up and leave because school was starting.  They landed in Cedar Rapids in the middle of, your plane got delayed because of tornadoes. Beza: That was another thing, the tornado. Terry: Well the flight alone all by yourself.  Sarah: They’d never flown before. Terry: And your brother is four years younger than you. So you were 16. He was 12.  Beza: Yes.  Sarah: And they just pack up, they get the yes at the embassy and within days they’re on a plane. Terry: Saying goodbye to all your family. Beza: And you know what’s funny, is we almost missed our flight. Oh no. I think it was like, God, because we met this guy and we were in line, there was this long line at the airport. And so my dad took us to this one point and then he couldn’t pass. So I’ve never been in the, at the airport ever. So it was just me and him. We had like our luggage and we were standing in line and this guy turns around and starts talking to us. And he’s like, where are you guys going? And we’re like, well, we’re going to the United States.  And he was like, really? Is this your first time?  And we’re like, yeah, we’ve never gone anywhere. Like you’ve never flew. Sarah: You guys were never even out of Addis Ababa.  Beza: No! And he was like really? Wow.  I didn’t know where the gate was. And I was like, do you know where this is?  And he was like, well, it’s over there. You have to hurry. Cause you’re gonna miss it.  And we just ran. Terry: That was fortunate, to have guy show you where to go.  Beza: I don’t think we would’ve made it if he wasn’t. So like now that I think about it. Yeah.  Sarah: And I do have to mention a couple things to people listening to this podcast are going to be super confused, because we introduced you as my adopted daughter, and then you’ve mentioned some other things. So just to clarify, Beza is my adopted daughter. What ended up happening is that, the United States government did make it possible that as an adult, she could legally be adopted. So we actually adopted her, even though she’s been in our home for four years. Has it been four years now?  Beza: Yes.  Sarah: Three and a half. Yeah. This summer, as an adult, she was able to be adopted. Which doesn’t affect her citizen status, but it does make it so that she’s legally our child. Terry: She’s been a part of your family for a long time. Well, and that’s another thing I wanted to, you know, you came over here and there’s a lot of stress and all of that. And you get plunked down in the middle of the Midwest, Iowa. You’ve got, you’ve got this whole new family, right? Not only did you come over to a new to new family to kind of be with, while you’re doing your student visa, but you now have four brothers and sisters you didn’t have before. What was that like, stress wise?  Beza: Wow. Okay. The corn. That was just another, I was not expecting that. I had this picture of the United States in my head, you know, like the pictures they show in the movies. Like the city. I’ve never seen the countryside in the movies. Like, yeah. And then I was like, wait, where are we?  Yeah, we came home. I remember the first place we went was Culver’s. It was nice. Everyone was really nice. Like I never felt out of place until like, okay, so a few weeks in. Sarah: Your stomach hurt?  Beza: Yes. And I started just getting. Terry: Just getting used to different foods would affect your stomach.  Beza: I think I was eating like Lays chips and grapes for like two months. That was the only thing. And Ginger Ale. Sarah: The girls and I are going to Ethiopia. My two biological daughters
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