Building a startup in America: a true story from a foreigner
Four years dreaming, couple of times of English tests, three times visa rejection: A beginning
When I boarded the plane flying from Beijing to Virginia in 2004, I have never expected a life, what soever in a country, which I only knew a little but have been always curious for over 4 years.
It is Hollywood movie attracting me to this remote country, the freedom, the endless land, the sunshine, beach, and coast. Back to 90’s, US government did a terrific job in Asia spreading its value: liberal and individualism spirit.
For this goal, I have used all my efforts, preparing for GRE test (2 times, first time 2110/2400, ending with a score 2360/2400) and TOELF ( 3 times, perhaps i just love taking the TOEFL test), being rejected with a Visa for 3 times for over 2 years from 2002 – 2004. I felt hopeless to get a visa. I knew the US embassy has a quote. For a single day, there were only a certain number of Chinese people who can be issued visas. Reason? I did not really know. I heard from someone that it was all because of 9-11, forcing US government to change its visa policy. At that time, I felt i was clearly a victim of 9-11!
The last try of U.S. visa was on the end July of 2004. In fact, I never expected getting a visa, because I knew visa officer always just simply say: Sorry sir, I can not give you a visa this time, but please come next time! Unfortunately, even until now, there is not such a thing you can argue with a Visa officer once the decision was made. You only accept their decisions and leave the embassy right away.
Fully aware of this, I just did say anything beside just standing there like a dumb, seemingly waiting for a “NO answer” again from Visa officer. I even asked myself why i should come here to have another rejection- losing my confidence and courage – perhaps most likely merely for seeking an opportunity to sooth my passion and dream?
Funny enough, on that day, the officer did not ask me the typical questions, which they have asked many many times:
(1) Why you chose this university? What will you study? How do you know this university? What will you do after graduates?
(2) What your parents do in China? Do you have brothers and sisters?
(3) The list goes on….
What I only can remember is : Sir, I will give you a visa!. From his smile, I knew he was really meant to give me a visa.
Finally, I got a visa, which i have waited for two years.
Because the school would start in no time, I had to quickly buy a ticket two days before i board the plane, leaving no time to say even a goodbye with my parents, my colleagues, and my friends. My heart was full of sorrow and conflicts…
After 24 hours, finally the plane flied into Virginia. After getting off from the plane, walking into the hallway (far smaller than Beijing airport), I stepped onto the soil of US for the first time after all this turmoil during past several years. A contrast feeling stroke me. In front of my eyes, a scene somehow familiar, with expected clean air and fresh sunshine. At the same time though, a huge disappointment was arising, a great of missing of home and parents, I have not yet said a Goodbye with before my leave.
I surprised found out what was waiting for me is such a small yet beautiful town, My Ph.D advisor, who i have only communicated with Emails, sent one of his students Nivrah to pick me up. Nivrah seemed a nice guy, with slight smile on his face, always shrugging off his shoulder when i asked some “he believed silly” questions about this college town and future research projects.
It took us about an hour to drive from airport to this small college town. After getting off his car, I started to realize that I had no where to go but got to stay in Nivrah’s apartment for a while, about five hours. I went to school, wished to check Email, and came across a graduate student, XingDa, who came for the same major as me. He arrived much earlier than me. I told him that I had no where to live and asked a favor from him for whether he knew someone who was still looking for a roommate. I left Nivrah’s phone number to him, since i did not have a phone yet.
About 2 hours later… I got a call from a guy telling me that he has been looking for a roommate. I did not take a single look of the room, saying: Okay, can I move in?
Hometown， 清原县 (Qingyuan, Liao ning, China)
Second Hometown, Roanoke, Virginia