My Story: Lessons learned from the balcony


On March 12, I started seeing my dreams fall apart as quickly as COVID-19 spread globally.

Everything I planned for the next couple of years has gone up in smoke, beginning with my graduation ceremony celebration, something I’ve spent 15 years working toward, and my Optional Practical Training opportunity, which is available to international students to apply what they learn in school to a work setting. 

No words can describe my panic as I watch news of massive increases in unemployment rates worldwide and lockdowns in several countries including my own, Saudi Arabia, which suspended inbound and outbound flights. 

But even though everything has been going downhill, on a recent Sunday morning I took my cup of coffee and walked onto my balcony. I sat in my chair, enjoying the sunshine and thinking about my future. 

Suddenly, despite all the troubles, I started thinking of myself as lucky. I started to appreciate everything I have between my hands: my health, my family, my apartment, my car and other things. 

Since I am thousands of miles from home, the COVID-19 pandemic did not take a lot of my social activities. However, I see how it has impacted people who grew up in the area. They are forced to be away from their loved ones. I realized that we often don’t pay enough attention to the small details in our daily routine. 

The balcony nook cleared my mind and opened a new window toward my next step. I recognized that life is about how we develop continually and the importance of overcoming obstacles. 

What used to be a priority is now a secondary thing that I can live without. I’m excited to experience the new – and different — opportunities out there.