A New Journey – Kenneth Tanudjaja

Hey everyone, hey Sam! My name is Kenneth. I’m 24 now. I would really like to share my story about living in an entirely different country by myself.

I was born in Indonesia. When I was small, I always knew that I really wanted to move away and lived somewhere else. When I graduated high school at 15, I found myself an opportunity to actually move and start a life somewhere else. So, with a lot of begging to my parents, they finally supported my decision and let me go. By the time I turned 16, four months after I graduated from high school, I had my passport and visa ready, was barely able to speak English, and hopped on a plane by myself with a big grin on my face to a one-way trip: the United States of America. Though my parents wanted to come with me, we didn’t have enough money for them to also purchase tickets, so they didn’t come. Despite having to say goodbye to my family and life that I knew it, I was feeling adventurous and I was extremely excited.

I ended up in Washington State alone, not knowing how to speak English properly and ended up being slammed with numerous cultural shocks. I registered myself to a community college while immersing myself in the American culture. I found out that I developed language skills more quickly than most people, which I was grateful for, and was able to be somewhat fluent in English a couple of months after I moved. I got involved with the college’s theater program and made friends who showed me what it’s like to be an American.

Now I’ve been living in the States for about 8.5 years. I fell in love with the country, decided to enlist myself to the military, and got my citizenship. I taught myself Russian, French, and German hoping that I will get another opportunity to just hop on a plane and explore those countries in the near future.

So here are a few pieces of advice from me if you decide to live in another country: the first step that you need to take is asking yourself whether you’re willing. Are you willing to be adventurous? Are you willing to take a leap of faith? Are you willing to step outside your comfort zone? The second step that you need to take is to accept the fact that everything and nothing can go wrong. You have to prepare yourself that a lot of things can go wrong or nothing can go wrong while you’re taking this chance. Accept that it’s an adventure and you don’t know what’s going to happen. The third thing is to make sure once you’re abroad, you’re ready to immerse yourself in that country’s culture. You need to be ready that not everyone accepts foreigners coming into their country. But it is your job to find the people who do. I think that’s the hardest part for me about moving here: the fact that I am a foreigner. Being Asian, I feel like I have to constantly look for acceptance and feel like I belong here. Even until now. I don’t know if that feeling will ever go away because I still feel like I’m judged based on my color and my looks in this country.

But I definitely wouldn’t take it all back because this has been the most amazing thing I’ve gotten to experience in my life. And I promise you that if you do decide to venture out into the unknown, it’ll be the best experience you’ll have.