The Green Card Effect


This conversation took place between me and a girl who immigrated to the United States around two years ago…
Me: So, when are you leaving to the states?
R: On wednesday, God willing
Me: I guess you don’t feel like leaving…
R: No! I can’t wait to go back
R: Yeah, I just took to living there, I’m having hard time coping with the life here…
Me: aha…
Now that ticked me off! She’s lived in Jordan for about 20 years, and after 2 years, let’s say maximum three years in U.S.A, and she cannot bear to stay in Jordan for a couple of months!
Well, I tried to be objective and put myself in her shoes… and guess what? I was also ticked off because I was afraid that I would react in the same way! who knows? life abroad is more comfortable, so would I feel comfortable living there and never going back to Jordan except for vacations? I hate to think about that because I never imagined myself leaving Jordan for good to live in foreign country…
Leaving that part aside, I mean let’s suppose that she finds life in the states more comfortable, does that mean shelving your mother language (Arabic that is)… Hear what she had to say when I asked her about that…
R: well you know I’m like struggling when talking to people in Arabic here…
Give me a break!! She hasn’t even completed 3 years there! You should see how her face brightened up when someone talked to her in English!
Well, I couldn’t flatter her on that matter so I just raised the serious tone up and said: Well, you have to do something about it! It’s your mother tongue you know…
I don’t think she saw that coming, maybe that’s why I thought I caught a hint of a grimace on her face…
Seriously, what would you do living and dying and establishing a family in a foreign country? It always seemed odd to me… leaving your country must be something temporary, to study or to work, and not to be thought of as a permanent state…
Anyways, I don’t want to rag on the whole matter so much, but this gave me a good mind to do what I thought of doing before, which is to seek a job in some other country (not the states, something within the same continent like Dubai or Abu Dhabi) and work there for one year or so in sha’a Allah… I want to know if I will pass the test, or fail it.
God knows best…

Originally posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 on



6 responses

  1. Wow, that is such an incredible story Ola. I really like it.
    Since reading is my worst habit, which I really can’t get rid of, I read almost all of your entries. So as I was reading, this story really had me wonder… Do you really know that girl? Because may be she wasn’t born in Jordan, and also, may be she lived in Jordan just for 8 years of her live. Oh and it gets better, because may be she was 18 and some moths when she left to the U.S cuz may be she was born in 85 not 84: O A lot of may bes I know, sorry. But really that story makes me wonder about the saying “never judge a book by its cover”. Cuz about the language also, did that girl tell u for the past 3 years she was there, she had no one and ,literally no one, to speak Arabic to, and that is why she got used to speaking in English!!!
    All that doesn’t really matter; let’s go back to the main point… Yes you right if you are originally, from Jordan and left for good to another country, you should never ever forget your roots. In facts, your root is the number one reason that you are today. Also, even if a person started to forget their mother tongue language, they should do something about it, may be by taking an Arabic class or something.
    Finally, sorry that I wrote so much, but I felt that I needed to reciprocate to your wonderful art of writing
    Deepest respect

  2. Hello Rafif, thanks for te comment!

    For all I know the girl lived in Jordan all her life and before leaving to the states English wasn’t her strong suit. The last time I heard from her, which wasn’t a long time ago, she didn’t seem like she wanted t come back although she once pointed out that she was sick with the life in US and wanted to come bac t Jordan.

    Anyway, this was 4 years ago, I guess I’m less judgmental now as I can understand how people might get used to certain conditions, but I still believe they should cherish their mother language and traditions.

  3. Your welcome Ola
    In fact, sometimes even if English is not your sturdy mania, you still can get used to it in the states. Specially, if you have no one to use your Arabic with, so it is normal. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean you should loss your mother tongue. Perhaps, we are very lucky people that we have such a great language and we should be proud of it.
    Yes, sometimes people get sick of the life style in the States, so I understand where your friend “R” comes from. However, if she really knows what she is doing over there in the U.S. she could make the best out of it, and that is of course just a little advice to your friend.
    In addition, I’m glad that you are less judgmental now. It is really important to investigate the case before we judge it.

  4. lol I just noticed that I used R as the initial, maybe I didn’t want her to know I was talking about her so I used a random letter! Imight as well have used her name, there’s nothing I said here that Icouldn’t say to her face

    You know I was afraid Worood will be acting like this too after few years in the states, I hope not, or maybe I’ll be ranting about her soon lol

    I see you could relate to this after having been there yourself for sometime so I think you’re a more reliable source on the subject! You should start a blog of your own by the way, you seem to have quite a skill in writing

  5. lol yes, I think that is great that you already told her everything right in the face, honesty is good .
    Regarding Worood: I think worood will never be like that ever for many reasons.
    1. She loves Jordan ( ll3adem)
    2. She started her life in the U.S. in an old age and that matters 😉
    3. She wouldn’t experience the American life style from her point of view; she will experience it from her husband and the Arabic community she is surrounded by, and of course that matters too.
    So no need to be concerned about her, she is good.
    Now about my experience, it is a bit different. It is full of funny things though. I already have written a lot about it, but I can’t publish it or post it anywhere now sadly

  6. Well I can understand that she got used to life in USA and doesn’t like to stay long in Jordan, that can be %100 true. However even if for 3 years you don’t speak a word in Arabic it’s totally hard to forget it or become uncomfortable speaking your mother tongue. Even if you live 20 years abroad, as long as you didn’t leave your home country when you were a child, you’ll always speak your mother tongue with ease.

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