Thursday, January 26, 2012

I just can’t believe I have been here for more than a month. Time is flying by so fast. I have been pretty busy this last 3 weeks. I have started school and boy it needs some attention. I really loved most of the things at school.

Things I really liked so far..                                        
The class rooms                                                                  
 The teachers                                 
The campus                                                                        
The students (they are awesome)                                        
The girls (** so CUTE and yeah so many of them** o_O)                    
The food (Even though I missed my Injera dearly *sobbing*)
Fun activities
Once again cute girls
Nice apartment
Good room mates

Things I didn't liked
7:45 AM Classes
Freezing cold weather (Like when it gets -15 oC) 
5:30 PM Dinner
Humanities class (Who cares about paradise lost)

But I also had the chance to go snowmobiling a couple of weeks ago. It was one of the things on my checklist and Bracken and Alan were more than happy to take me. So we drove to Jackass Meadow in Wyoming and we really had fun. It was my first time driving a snowmobile and I really loved it. I am already addicted to it and I think of it sometimes.
We made fire on the snow, cooked a delicious burger and had a good lunch. I love the snow because I can have lots of fun on it but I hate the cold. Surprisingly enough though, I am doing well till now. May be this year’s mild winter (For Rexburg) helped me a lot.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christmas in America

 This years Christmas was so much fun. We drove from Ashton to Salt Lake city on the 22nd of December. The plan was to stay the night in SLC and then drive to Castle Dale, Utah , our final destination.
So that night in SLC we went out to see the Christmas lights at temple square. All the trees were decorated with Christmas lights and It was really beautiful and a joy to watch. In every tree there are thousands of lights and the place is filled with colors. I can't imagine how they have worked hard to make it this pretty. I have never seen something so colorful and beautiful like this before. We wondered around and visit all the cool spots as much as possible.

But the most awesome part of the night was, when we saw the Mormon tabernacle choir singing the famous "Hallelujah" Song. Their performance just took my breath away. We are very lucky because they were recording  it so that they will broadcast it later on Christmas day. It was a rare opportunity and it was worth all the cold.
                                                    I was watching this... So cool

The next day, We drove to Castle Valley Outdoors, a nice lodge outside of Castle Dale city. We are going to stay and celebrate Christmas here. Most of the family were already there so I introduced my self with them. I have my own nice room. This is going to be the best Christmas Ever!!

The weather here is not bad. It was perfect for me even though it was not the normal December for the rest of them. It didn't snow for quite a while which is not a typical December weather. But it worked perfect for me. There is a frozen pond near the lodge so we decided to shovel the snow and make it nice to play on it.
We then had fun playing football on it with a little lid kind of thing. The snow was slippery and I fall down like a hundred times but it was so fun.

We then headed back home and it was time for some indoor games. We played card games, Board games pool, Video games etc. It was nice to be part of all the activities and I really had a great time. Andrew and Morgan were telling me I need to gain at least 20 pounds and with all the YUMMY foods I am eating I say thats a reachable goal. I like most of the foods here and there are tons of foods to choose from. I used to think It might be really hard for me to live without Injera but surprisingly I am doing great. I sometimes miss my beloved Injera but the variety of food here helped me a lot not to miss it much.

The next day I tried Ice skating for the first time. I know its hard but never imagined it will be this difficult. Morgan is a great ice skater and she tried to teach me some. At first I couldn't balance my self at all. But after a while I was better on keeping my balance. Even though it was hard I had fun though. It is one of the things I wished. I will definitely want to learn more.

                                                       Ice Fishing was way fun

On Christmas Eve, We also saw a Drama performed by some of the family. Even though I didn't have a clue what was going on I though it was about the time of the birth of Jesus Christ. It was funny and nice to see them do it.
Finally, on the Christmas day, we got up early and went down stairs to give Christmas presents for each other. As a tradition I had to put my Christmas presents under a Christmas tree and then give to the person I wanted to give to. I also got lots of clothes, backpack, cool flying copters and other cool stuffs. I felt great to be part of it. I liked the tradition of celebrating Christmas together as a family and friends.

After Christmas we went to Castle Dale and stayed there till the new year. I loved every bit of staying with all the family. I also had the chance to drive a car for the first time since I got here. I was nervous first but I guess I did Ok. Even though, I am sure I scared all the girls who were at the back with me one or twice.
We also went to see "The Wedge overlook". It is a nice canyon outside of Castle Dale. The view was spectacular. We even climbed down, which by the way was a hard task, to be more in the middle of the canyon and get a more nice view. I loved it. We also saw a Dinosaur foot print and some paintings by Native Americans.
Spectacular view

After all, This was by far the best Christmas and New Year in my life. I am glad to be here and be with all of them.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My First Full day (outside of Airports :) )

I am sure this blogging thing will not be something exciting but I want to preserve all my experiences and first time activities for the future and I will try to keep blogging.
When I got the Admission to BYU-I, I also was asked to choose which track I want to start school. I wanted to be enrolled on the Fall/Winter track because of two basic reasons. My first reason was the fact that I will be able to go to the US and start school soon but the second one and what really made me decide was the weather on September in Idaho. I heard that its nice and warm in September so I thought it will make my transition easy. But, I was then assigned to the Winter/Spring track. I then started thinking I am going to die by the Idaho Cold. Even the Visa Officer joked about how cold it gets in Idaho when he gave me the visa. But I now think about it I am really glad that I came in December. Because I had a very nice first impression because I was able to see all the difference from Ethiopia.
My First full day in the US started on Monday December the 19th 2011. We need to drive to Ashton today so I am very excited to see America in a day light. I want to see the scenery, the people, the buildings, the roads, everything.
When I go outside, everything was white. It was snowing at night so there is snow everywhere. It’s really beautiful. I feel like my hands are drying but again I feel like I am in the movies where they show the Christmas time and all the snow. I really can’t express how different this country feels for a person like me who came from Africa specially Ethiopia.
We hop on the car and started driving to Idaho. I just kept telling Shelley and Alan how everything looks so different and so beautiful and it really is.  For me right now ‘Different’ is ‘Beautiful’.  The plan is to drive to Rexburg and then meet the Haws family at 4:00 PM at their house. Morgan and Andrew also are coming there to meet us.
On our way we stopped to see some farming equipments. We also had a quick stop in Mc Donald’s to grab a burger. My First Mc Donald Burger!! Cool Right?? I know!!
We had a very nice burger and French fries. Yummy!! Here I can have as many drinks as I want but I will only pay one. Refill is FREE!! But Honestly I did not like most of the drinks they have. May be its because I never drank it before. So I just get my coke every time.
Next stop was Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is extra freakin big store.  It’s like a city by itself. They have literally everything for sale. They have many stores all over the United States and I will say it one more time Its
Very freakin Big. I know that it’s supposed to be big and nice because I have heard a lot about it but still when you are inside and see everything it just blows your mind. I kept thinking how all other little stores would be out of business if there was a Wal-Mart in Ethiopia. But I can’t help it but kept wishing if we had these kinds of stores in Ethiopia. These people here love to shop. Shopping is big part of their life. You can tell that by just looking how many cars are parked outside of the stores. Especially at this Holiday season I think this big stores get busy than usual. I wanted to see all part of the store but we needed to keep driving to make it in time to Rexburg. But I know that I will be shopping some other day and that’s great.
Finally, we made it to Rexburg and we got to see Alyssa, Demitu, Tofik and Gutema. It was a very happy moment to see them again. It was unreal but again very nice. I can tell they were excited to see me too. I missed these guys so much and I am now with them. They invited us to go inside and we did. The kids were happy to show me their house and room. They have a really nice house and I really admired Wes’s determination and energy. After what he has been through to build a house as nice as this is great. I missed Everett so much and I really was eager to see him talk and say my name. I missed his cute smile and his laugh. But He was not around so I asked where he was. Alyssa knows how much I love him so she told me he is with her sister Kate and they will be back soon. Wes and Mubarek were at work and Mesafint was not also at home at the time. But after some time Wes and Mubarek came. Morgan and Andrew also came over and Kate and Everett too. Its finally nice to see them all. Specially all the kids. Leah, Lily and Everett. They all are growing up and they all started to talk. I love kids and these are all adorable kids. I am sooo in love with them. Finally we needed to grab a dinner and go to Ashton where Alan, Shelley,Morgan, Andrew,Zack , Leah and Lilly live. To my US home. We had a pizza for dinner from Pizza hut. The Pizza was good but not the same pizza I know and not a thin crust. There are Christmas decorations everywhere and everything looks Christmassy. We finally drove to Ashton. It takes about 30 minutes to drive to Rexburg to Ashton. Since I will be staying in Rexburg, I might have to go back and forth this road for a while.  By this time, It was almost dark. Did I mention that it gets dark here at like 4:30 PM. It’s so weird. I know its Geography or Science or whatever but it’s weird. We finally reached to the house. I dreamed about this all year long and even use to count the days. But now it’s all there for me to see.  I had tons of pictures of the house on my computer. Pictures taken by Alan and left on the computer when he sold it to me. It’s a very big and beautiful house. Christmas decorations are everywhere and everything looks so elegant.

We got inside and I had a tour of the house by Morgan. I have a room with a bathroom and everything. I loved it. This is more than I hope for. We have Satelite TV, High Speed internet with a wireless network, a very big kitchen, nice bathrooms. Everything is great. Life is great.

Little things I noticed

I love how convenient they make things for you here. Even having a 10 hour layover in an Airport is fun. May be it’s because I am too excited experiencing things for the first time. I am so tired from the sleeplessness and all the flight plus jet lag. But, I managed to stay awake and communicate with friends back home. I also needed to let my brother know I am doing just fine so that my family will put their mind to ease.  Taking a domestic flight is no hassle like taking international fights. I already checked in my bags so I don’t need to worry about it till I reach to Salt Lake City. We didn’t need to go through security because we already did that before coming to the gate I am at right now. So, when its time they just let us board to the plane. This plane was not as I expected. It’s tiny and the inside was not fancy. But, It is an hour and Forty Five minute flight so I think it’s appropriate. But the fight was a bit rough. More bumpy and sometimes uncomfortable. I tried to get a sleep but I kept waking up because the plane was shaking once in a while. So, I just kept looking outside through the window. Luckily this time I got the window seat. We reached to Atlanta in time. I need to mention that I was wowed by how big this city is. Looking down from the plane at night, it is so bright and so beautiful. I hope to see this city one day. Not from the airplane window though. We landed at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. So far so good. I just need to find my next gate to take the flight to Salt Lake City now. I tracked my flight number from the big screen they have and know what gate I needed to go. I have got 2 hours to do that and it’s more than enough of course. Airports here have lots of workers who are right there to help you on whatever you need. So, I just went to one of the officers and asked which way the gate is and he gave directions for me and wished me luck. So, I followed his directions and reached my gate.  At this time, saying I was so tired would be an understatement. I was kind of sleep walking wishing they have a bed in the airport and if it was ok to miss my flight. But I remembered Shelley’s instructions that she sent me by email while I was in Ethiopia. So, I tried my best to be awake and finally they announced we can board to the plane. This will be my final flight of my travel. It’s been tough but rewarding. I have missed all of my American family and knowing that I am going to see them soon is making me more excited and less tired. But on the flight to SLC, I managed to get a sleep for some time. This time we had a pretty big airplane and once again I got the window seat. Next to my seat were a mom and her little daughter. I love the kids here. They are so adorable and smart. Hearing them talking in English just brings smile to my face. I missed Leah, Lily and Everett so much. I am so glad I will be with them for quite a while. I know I have got a lot to learn about this country, the people, the culture, the language, the food, the weather. I was warned by Morgan to experience a culture shock and I expect that too. I hope not so much though. But anyway, I encountered one little situation I kind of regretted on this plane ride. After like 20 minutes or so, the little kid that sat next to me fell to sleep on her mom’s lap. I thought she was so cute. But, I went to sleep myself for a while and when I wake up at one time, I saw her mom wanted to go to the rest room and was having a hard time to make it simple for her daughter to keep sleeping until she go to the restroom and come back. So I figured maybe I can help by holding her daughter for a while and so that she will not wake up. So, I asked if she wanted me to hold her for a while. But then she pulled a surprised face and said NO. I then kept telling myself that I am a fool. I know in Ethiopia, somebody will say ‘Yes, thank you’ because I was trying to help. But I guess you mind about your own business only here. But what made me so uncomfortable was the fact that the mom became uncomfortable because I tried to help. May be she just suspected me to do something bad to her kid or may be something else but she became so afraid to leave her kid alone with me. So, she just stood up and tried to think. Then, she talked to the lady on the other side of the plane and asked her to watch her kid while she is gone to the restroom. I naively asked her to help and made her uncomfortable. Now that’s odd to me. Because I am sure at home that’s something to be appreciated. Any ways, I thought that was something different.
One incredible thing is they have internet service on the plane. You can connect your Smartphone or wi fi enabled device and access the web. I thought it was great to be able to access my facebook from 36000 ft. This is some advanced technology stuff.
We reached to Salt Lake City 10 minutes early than expected. It was so foggy and hard to see outside. Finally, I saw the fog is not just a normal fog but sprinkle of snow. I was so excited to see my first snow!! We finally get off from the airplane and I know Alan and Shelley are waiting for me at the baggage claim area. I asked for 2 peoples to show me where the baggage claim area and they told me to follow them. But just when we were about to reach to the escalator which will take me down to the bag claim area, I saw Alan and Shelley standing there waiting for me. I just couldn’t believe I made it here all alone. It was just unbelievable for me to think that I am in America. Wasn’t I dreaming about that a week ago? Now it all came true. I was so happy to see Alan and Shelley’s face. We hugged and greet and talked a bit. They were so happy to see me as well. I am sure it was surprising to see me walking towards them at the Airport.
                                                     Arriving at SLC Airport

I am so glad to have them as part of my life. It’s amazing how somebody could have enormous impact on the course of your life. We headed down to the baggage claim area to pick my bag. Luckily, my bags were not delayed or lost. Everything went perfect and smooth from start to finish. I did a great job ensuring everything go well by following instructions from Shelley and Tony. It’s been more than 14 hours since I arrived to America but I have been only to the Airports. So, it was time to go outside. When we went outside I thought to myself I really am going to freeze and die. I can see my breath since it’s so cold. When I say it’s cold, it is not a normal cold. This is a whole another level cold. This is DRY COLD!! I feel like I stepped into a freezer or something. We put my bags at the back of the car and we headed down to Shelley’s sister house. I came to know lots of American friends and they have one thing in common. They all hate the road system in Ethiopia. They all think it’s crazy. For somebody who never got out of the country before it’s kind of hard to really understand why they think like that. But now I know. The roads here are so organized and so wide. There are rules and these rules are not only on paper.They are to there to be respected and to be followed strictly. It makes driving so easy and not scary at all. No wonder why our country is top on road accidents.
Shelley’s sister Sara lives just outside of down town SLC. She is a registered nurse and works at the biggest medical center in town. I was able to see it when we were driving. She has a very nice house. Unfortunately though I wasn’t able to meet her because she needs to wake up early and she was sleeping at the time. By the time we reached her house its past midnight. So, we didn’t want to wake her up. I am sure I will get the chance to meet her sometime soon. It will be a pleasure. I got a room all for myself. It was a very nice room with a comfortable bed, a nice shower and with wi fi internet. So nice!! May be it’s because of the long flight; my appetite for food was gone. So, I just needed to rest. I took a shower and hop on bed. My mind started thinking and processing about all the stuff that have happened in the past 2 weeks or so for a while But, I have a very long day ahead of me tomorrow, So my body deserved to rest some more. 

A Dream Come True!

This is the day I have seen  the dream I had for more than a year come to reality. Dec. 18, 2011 A.D. I have been working to get a visa to the United States to continue my education. As most of Ethiopians, I used to wish to come to United States for whatever reason. Weather it is for visit or education or by getting an Immigrant Visa by winning Diversity Visa Lottery. But Again As most other Ethiopians, I know this is probably never going to happen considering how hard it is to get a Visa to the US. But while working in one of the biggest Agricultural Companies in Ethiopia, back in 2010 A.D, I came to know a very generous, loving, compassionate, Self-Less couples (Alan and Shelley Baum), who changed my life forever for good. Using the hope they gave me as an ammo I started the battle of getting a Visa to U.S.A to continue my education. I know it is hard to get that Visa, but Man I have never thought it would be this difficult. I came to a lot of low points in my morale and hope while working on it. Being  a 3rd World country Citizen didn’t helped at all. I was given the big task of convincing whoever the Visa officer that I have every intention of coming back when I am done with school. But the problem?? Well there is no real evidence. I am 22, Young, Never married, No children, No Money in Bank, No house, No valuable whatsoever. The first thing that will pop up to the Visa officer mind will be ‘Why in the world will he come back when he finishes school’? Well that’s a good question to be asked. But unfortunately on my first Embassy interview I wasn’t able to convince the Visa officer with my answers. After the little research I have done online I had the knowledge of showing a job offer in  any organization is a plus, So I was able to get that letter from Wallace S. Odd II (Wally), Who is CEO of Morrell Agro Industries P.L.C., the Company I used to work at. But that was it and that was not enough to the young and absolutely careless visa officer. It took merely 2 minutes for her to shatter my dream, The Ethiopian Dream’. I was so devastated, When she told me I did not showed enough ties to my country and for that reason I am denied a visa, I felt a shiver in my whole body. I literally felt my legs shaking. But, I said thank you, got my documents and left the Embassy Compound. I just couldn’t believe all the hard work is washed away in 2 minutes. Just 2 minutes!!  Finally, I started talking to myself and tried to lift myself up. When I started thinking clearly, I Called Wally and talked to him about it. He was perplexed because he knew I have every necessary document that is enough to get me a student Visa. He then told me to come over to his office and talk about it. Wally is a great guy with  enormous experience and outstanding personality. He tried to cheer me up and he told me to take this as a bump in the road. His words really calmed me down and I said to myself, God had brought me all this way and he will give me what I wanted for a long time one way or another. I also contacted Alan and Shelley as well as Morgan (Alan and Shelley’s Daughter). They were also very sad to learn the news. We had high hopes it will work out. But it didn’t. So now we were supposed to think and act fast on what needed to be done. First thing was to get documents that the Visa officer wanted to see and I couldn’t show her on my first visit. This includes Affidavit of Support forms, Bank Statements from Alan and Shelley plus authenticating my high school certificate. By the way I had no clue that my high school certificate was supposed to be authenticated by the National Examination Agency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The most un-professional thing the Embassy does is not telling exactly what needs to be done prior to coming to the Embassy for a visa interview. It seems like they want to discourage peoples by telling them there is another paper to be filled out or to bring. But Anyways We took care of these parts and the rest is just praying to God. Lucky me, I have lots of peoples telling me to hold on and keep trying. Peoples who are praying for me. People who, when I am sad with their kind words warm my heart and make me feel loved. It’s a blessing to know these people. Alan and Shelley and their family stood by my side on that trying time and told me to keep my faith in Jesus Christ. So after two other continuous and unsuccessful tries with Wally, then finally I went to the Embassy alone for another interview. This time I have to nail it. Nothing less is acceptable.  But speaking of the truth I was so in doubt knowing the fact that I have been denied just a month and half ago and also I have no considerable change to plead my case. But this time, I had more prayers both from Ethiopia and the U.S. Sometimes When I think about how the visa officer understood me and listened to what I have to say carefully I say it’s God’s way of answering our prayers. After asking me what new documents I have brought this time and about the School I am hoping to Join (Brigham Young University-Idaho), He jumped into the main and crucial question. ‘Why would you come back to Ethiopia’?  My Answer was I think a little different than he expected. I didn’t tried to list reasons that will make me come back but instead I just showed him with my little speech how this opportunity arose for me and how it will change my life in the future if I can take full advantage of it. I honestly told him looking straight into his eye that I have no money in my bank Account or I don’t have a car or a house. I told him “I have nothing valuable to show you as a reason for me to come back”.  But I also showed him the meaning of getting a University Degree from U.S.A from internationally accredited university from my angle. I also told him how close I am with my family and how much they meant to me and how I dream of helping change myself and my family’s life and be close to them. Finally I concluded by saying that I don’t want to picture perfect about life after graduation but told him it will be brighter. He listened carefully and checked every document I gave him. One quality the first Visa Officer didn’t have. He was mature on handling every interviewee and gave time for the people to say what they want to say unlike the first visa officer. He then with a smile congratulated me on getting the visa. At this time there was a tear in my eyes. He even joked about how I will freeze out in Idaho. I then Said thank you and started to walk out of the Embassy to pay for my Visa. A million things were running in mind. I wanted to cry but as the same time I also wanted to just laugh out loud. I started thinking about how my family will be happy when they hear this news. I just started thinking about how proud my mom and dad will be by this achievement. I also started thinking about the miracles of God. How he is able to pick you up from your lowest point and put you to a place you could only hope for. I also was thinking how Shelley, Alan, Morgan and every other people that were eager to listen to the news would react. I had a dream and it came true. What else can I ask for? I really believe our Lord have a way of doing things for us in a way we couldn’t imagine. I sometimes look back on the important decision I made in my life and see God’s plan for me. But Now, Everybody is happy and more than anything I am happy. Next was telling everybody the news they have been waiting for. Knowing somebody is happy by my success is another piece of heaven. So I spread the word for some of my Ethiopian and American friends. I also told the news to my American Dad, Mom and Sister (Alan, Shelley and Morgan). They are my family and helped me in thick and thin as if I were their son and brother. I knew this would make their day and it sure did.
I was given the Visa on Dec. 12/2011 and I received my passport 4 days later. My ticket was booked for Saturday. A week ago , I was asking myself ‘Do I have any kind of chance on accomplishing this?’ and now I am getting prepared to fly out to America. It’s astonishing how things could change in a matter of days. Actually for that matter, even in seconds. I am so excited to be with my American family once again. I am also looking forward to see all the things America has to offer. Starting from the winter snow to the big stores like Wal-Mart. From the nice food to meeting new peoples and talk in English the whole day. From visiting nice cities to celebrating Christmas the American way. But more than that, I am looking forward to my life as a student. I constantly ask myself ‘Will I fit in?’ It sometimes makes me nervous but luckily there are lots of peoples who will help me and guide me through.
After finishing packing and saying goodbye to some family members I then went to Bole International Airport. My Parents, Brother and Sisters all came just to say goodbye from Nazreth. They all headed with me to the Airport. It makes me sad to leave them and go all the way to America but I know and they know it’s for good. Especially I feel sad to leave my Dad because he recently doesn’t feel good health wise. He has some serious health issues and unfortunately the health care in Ethiopia is below poor. He needs to be treated consistently in a Hospital but he couldn’t get the health care he needed. So thinking about that and realizing I am not going to be with him for a while made me want to cry but I hold on and told him to take care of himself. I also told him I am trying to accomplish the promise I gave him when he gave me a ring as a gift for my first graduation in Ethiopia. He made me promise to try and continue my education and not stop by what I had on that moment. I saw his face light up when I said those words and he just came over quietly and kiss me on my forehead. I am so proud to keep my promise and I am blessed to know Alan and his family to give me this opportunity. I then said my final goodbyes and headed to the passenger gates. I have flown before but only domestic flight in a very small Airplane. This is a whole new experience for me. But Shelley already taught me every detail on what to expect from the first Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to my final destination in Salt Lake City, Utah. I made sure I have every document I need to show for the officers and then proceeded to the gate. I went through security and went straight to the place where I will get my boarding pass to the plane for my flight from Addis Ababa to Washington D.C. At this point I have checked my two suitcases. So I don’t need to worry about it up to Washington. After securing my boarding pass, I then went through customs and immigration office inside the airport. It all was an easy process and run smoothly. After that I went through another security checkpoint and I was told to wait on the Gate where all the other passengers on my flight were waiting at. Being inexperienced on flying and since I was nervous I forgot to eat something before coming to the Airport and now my stomach started rumbling. To make matters worse, for some reason our flight got delayed for an hour and half. After so many hours of waiting finally we were told to board on the plane and we did. My first time on a Big Airplane!! I was hoping to get a seat by the window side just to look outside when we take off and arrive in Washington but my seat was in the middle. But it didn’t matter as long as I am inside the plane. The Airplane is sooo big. Next to me were two white peoples who were also going to Idaho. We had some chat and I told them how excited I am to go over the United States and study in BYU-I.  I am not sure their purpose for visiting Ethiopia but other four or five people were with them. After everybody was on board our plane took off. Since I had an experience flying in the small Airplane I did not felt anything weird taking off on the big airplane. It just feels so nice. Finally an hour after taking off the flight attendants brought us our dinner my stomach was craving for. I knew this was the start of ditching Injera for a quite a long time. But the chicken they served me was tasty. We flew north of Ethiopia and through Sudan, Egypt passing through Mediterranean sea to Rome, Italy for a brief stop to refill Fuel and change plane operators and flight attendants.  We remained seated and I kept watching movies and playing games. Everybody seems to sleep without problem the whole way but I managed to sleep only for about 30 minutes at one point. I think maybe I am so excited or may be it’s because I usually can’t fall asleep while I am seating. I have never been in a flight which takes more than an hour and half so this one started to wear me out a little bit when we were about to reach Rome. But on our second flight to Washington I was so exhausted. Why is Ethiopia in the opposite side of the world from America?? I just wish if it wasn’t this far.  I managed to sleep for an hour or so  on this flight too. But my mind was up and running after sometime because it is still in Ethiopian time and it is day light there at that point. Good thing is these big airplanes have lots of movies and games loaded in the screen in front of each seat which are enough reasons to distract me from thinking about the flight. But still the final 2-3 hours of the flight were a nightmare. Because of the delay in Addis, we were delayed an hour and half from our expected arrival time. The guys who sat next to me barely missed their flight. But I had about 11 hours of layover in Washington before my next flight to Atlanta so no worries for me!! I wanted to make sure nothing will go wrong so I asked the guys if I can join their group and process the custom and security check together with them. They were nice enough to help me find he Non-US citizen immigration checkpoint and I passed through that. I was afraid may be there will be a problem here for some reason but nothing went wrong. It took only a minute for the officer to check my documents, take my biometric scan and photo and then it was done. I am officially allowed to pass through the U.S.A border!!! YAY for me!! I have done it. I then checked in my bags for the next two flights and went to the Gate where I will catch my next flight. I used to think the terminal in Addis was so nice until I saw this Airport. Everything is so neat and technologically advanced. I even took a fast mini-train to go to the domestic flight terminal. My first time ride in a train by the way even though its short. I also for the first time tried the real American burger from Five Guys as recommended by Shelley. It was the best burger I ever had in my entire life. This is the high life!! J For the first time in my life I also bought something with a dollar note. The coin the waitress gave me for change was kinda funny though. I am looking forward to a lot of first times in this great country. The story continues and it will get better and better. But in the mean time I am enjoying my 10 hour layover in a terminal in Washington D.C. with a fast internet, a French fries and a coke.