School days

19 Apr

I arrived at US to go school in Boston, Mass, & spent 2 years at UMass Boston, where I took all my math, physics, & chemistry, along with other basic requirements for engineering. I was at the time living with my brother in suburbs, we were supposed to go to school together, but he would often refuse to get up in the mornings, I had to walk near a mile in snow, through graveyard & change buses & train to get to school. I was taking same route back home, at nights I would get home with my feet were nearly frozen, & I used to defrost them in the tub filled with warm water. I did not know how to drive & had no car & did not want to miss school, for I was determined to finish it in good terms. For this I used to fight a lot with my brother & finally moved away from him & found a place closer to school.

In 1980, I had to transfer to Amherst to finish my engineering degree, but a high school friend in Washington DC, sent me application from UDC, & insisted that we were better off being together, & finally I agreed. This was during the time that Iranians had American hostages, so the immigration agent told me to go home & keep my during study visa as it is, I could lose it. I agreed & went back home, but my friend convinced me to try again. Next day, I went back to immigration, same man, I remember he was around 40, slim cold solid face, took my paper work from me, and walked away, without a word. I just sat there for may be an hour wondering, what next?! The man came back, I still remember his face, he did not  look cold anymore, he looked calm & peaceful, he gave me back my passport, with another during study visa for UDC 🙂

I registered at school for civil engineering, one of my instructors who was also the dean for the department showed interest in my education. I think he was Chinese (Prof. Chang), he insisted that I would be wasted in civil engineering, it is  a man’s world, & little room for creative conscious women to succeed. Truth is that earlier I had done research & found out that mechanical engineering was a better field to succeed in, but I wanted to eventually (masters) become an Architecture. Dr. Chang convince me to change my major, but now the revolutionaries in Iran had restricted my parents from sending my tuition money.

I was lucky enough to get jobs here & there & pay for my school, fortunately my parents were both stylish & had raised me with a good sense for fashion, & I was young & presentable & made a good salesperson at boutiques in Georgetown, DC. It was not that my parents did not manage to send me any money at all, but it would get lost on its way to me often! Later I learned that revolutionaries wanted my father (retired /colonel during Shah) to work for them, but he was refusing it, so they were using anything they could to put pressure on him.

Bottom line, there was a one year period were I did not go to bed to sleep, because I only had 1 hour for sleep, I had an  average of 21 semester credits (23 or 24, sometimes, they let me do that, because I was on dean’s list), plus a job. I used to sleep on a lazy chair for an hour, that was it. for a year. I did not have a degree yet, when a friend tipped me off about a job opportunity in NJ. I decided to give it a try, exams were over, no degree yet. It was around December 1983, we had snow up to our knees in DC, my boyfriend refused to help me, I had to go get my resume done on my own, then airports were shut, I had to sit in the airport waiting for planes, & got to interview wet, for NJ was covered by snow storm as well. I was interviewed by three guys, all astonished that I had made it there for interview, regardless of the snow storm. Not knowing that I was scared that I could not continue school on my own anymore & was desperate for a job. Upon request from employer, I asked school instructors for recommendation letters, & got good ones. Though Dr. Chang & another one of my instructors wished that I would stay in school for a graduate degree, but I was not up to dealing with the pressure & hard work (1 hr sleep/night) anymore.

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