ESL Memoir Paragraphs

A Big Change In My Life

Memoir Paragraphs from Mission College English Learners

The following paragraphs are from a group of beginning-level English learners from Cuba, Mexico, Turkey, Egypt, Japan, Russia, and Vietnam.

When I moved to the U.S. in 2022, my life changed.  Everybody spoke English.  I missed my family and friends.  It was a different culture with different weather. The beach was very cold and dirty here, but in my hometown it's so beautiful and clear. Also, the people here aren't friendly,  but in my country they are very friendly. I study English at Mission College now, so it's very good for me. I have good friends. Finally, I think that I will love this place.

- Barbara Alejo Jimenez

Barbara is from Cienfuegos, Cuba. She likes to walk on the beach, and she likes to travel.

When I decided to play the flute, it was a big change in my life. When I was a child, my cousins and I decided to learn music with my uncle. He is a musician and his father was a musician, too. The lessons of music are very interesting because it is a different language. I learned the notes, learned the time values and read sheet music.

The choice of an instrument is so important. At first, I thought I would play the violin because I like the "mariachi", and my sister chose the transversal flute, but when my uncle bought the instruments, my sister loved the violin and dislike the flute, so we decided to switch the instruments. I never saw the transversal flute before, so I was very excited. Now I´m a musician and have many friends in different cities. I think the flute chose me and I love it. Choosing the flute was a wonderful change in my life.

- Nancy Allende

Nancy has been a student of ESL at Mission College since 2022. Check out her music project in Mexico by going to Instagram @nuestralenguavive.

When I got married in 2019, it was a big and amazing change in my life because my husband lived in America and I lived in Turkey. We waited for a green card for me. The green card procedure was complicated and very long. In 2020, the pandemic began. So the procedure stopped that process for a long time. Also, flights stopped around the world. He could not come to Turkey for eight months. At the end of the three years, my green card was approved. I moved to San Jose two months ago. Now, I live here. I meet new people from other countries. I learn different cultures. And, I go to Mission College to improve my English skills.

- Gizem Altun

Gizem is 29 years old and from Turkey. She got married in 2019 and now lives in San Jose; however, her mother and sister still live in Turkey. Gizem’s hobbies are marbling art, ornamentation, painting watercolors, and cooking.

When I was 22 years old, my mom traveled to another country to visit our relatives. There she had a sudden heart attack and died. It was a big change in my life. My dad traveled to her funeral. After her death, I became responsible for my dad, my younger brother, and my home. At the beginning, life was hard but later I was able to manage. Now I can take care of my family easily because I have experience from this big change.

- Amal Elghalayeny 

Amal is from Egypt, and she has lived in California for one year. She studies English at Mission College, and she enjoys entertaining her grandsons. In her free time, she likes to work out at the gym and read stories.

When I got a dog ten years ago, it was a big change in my life.  First, I changed my lifestyle to a well-regulated one.  I got up early in the morning in order to make breakfast for her.  I went for a walk with her twice a day.  I also made her dinner at about the same time every day.  Secondly, I started to clean up my room every day.  My dog was interested in everything she saw, and she tried to put it in her mouth.  I made sure that there was nothing harmful for her, such as food, papers, gadgets, trash, on the floor.  Thirdly, living with a dog expanded my circle of friends in my neighborhood.  I got to know people who loved dogs, regardless of their age and gender. I felt very happy to have friends who had the same interest.  Lastly, I started to pay attention to the environment from a dog's point of view.  For example, I searched around parks, cafes, and restaurants that are dog friendly.  Also, I carefully selected the route to get to such places because some things can be very harmful for dogs even if there is no risk for a human. Ten years have passed, and I am still living with her.  Thanks to my dog, I am keeping my healthier and happier lifestyle.

- Noriko Fujikawa

Noriko is from Japan, and she has lived in California for 5 years. She studies English at Mission College. In her free time, she likes listening to music.

When I started college, it was a big change in my life. It was my first time living on my own. I moved to Nara Prefecture from Iida-city, my hometown. Nara is in the Kansai region (western Japan) and near Kyoto. Kansai people were very friendly. In addition, I felt that they were talkative. Their culture was a little different compared to Iida (eastern Japan). The accents also were different. They were exciting to me. Because their intonation was the opposite of mine. After that, I started living in Osaka, got a job, and married. I was surprised at first, but I learned the Kansai dialect naturally. Now that I have moved to California, these experiences of mine are very helpful because I have come to accept the differences in culture and language.

- Hidemi Genno

Hidemi is from Osaka, Japan, and she has lived in California for a year. She studies English at Mission College, and she enjoys hiking or traveling.  In her free time, she likes to watch stand-up comedy acts and anime.

When my family moved to Brussels, Belgium, the weather was cool. Everybody spoke French and Flemish. We chose French. My children went to a French school. We lived in a big apartment in a nice neighborhood. When we lived in Belgium, we traveled to many countries. Europe, Russia, Africa, it was all a wonderful country. I lived in Belgum for six years and then moved to New York. We spoke English. Of course, the children went to an American school. I think the children had a hard time while the words were different. We love a country called America.  and we had a very good time.     

- Fumiko Inoue

Miko grew up in Kobe, Japan.  She lived in Belgian Bressell for 6 years, New York City for 4 years, and San Jose for 4 years. She speaks French and a little English. She studies English at Mission College.  She is taking three ESL classes now. She enjoys herself every day. In her life, she has traveled to 35 countries, including Europe, America, Asia, Africa, and Russia. Her favorite places are Vienna, Austria, and Yellowstone National Park. Her dream is to go around the world and eat food from all over the world. And she wants to talk to people from all over the world. That's why she is studying English hard. Her hobby is tennis, so she plays tennis with various people.

When I moved to Santa Clara, it was a big change in my life. We lived in a small apartment. I missed my family and friends. My oldest son was a little sad. He didn’t like the neighborhood to play with. I didn’t have any friends. I had left many things in my old house. I felt a little sad. Now many things are better for us. We have a big place to live. I have many friends, my husband has a better job, and my three children are happy in their school. Changes are good. We are glad to live in Santa Clara.

- Francisca Jaramillo

Francisca is from Mexico. She's 40 years old, and she has three sons. She likes to learn English and she wants to improve her skills. In her free time, she enjoys dancing and hiking.

The most significant change in my life is moving to the USA. I immigrated with my family for the sake of the future of my children. In Russia, I didn’t have free time to study English because I worked a lot. I didn’t drive a car because there was heavy traffic on the roads.  I went to work by subway.  Now, I am studying English and driving a car. I hope to find a job in the future, and I hope that my children here will grow up free people who can have their own opinion.

- Elena Kruglova

When I moved to the United States, it was a big change in my life. I was born and raised in Japan. My husband's work took my children and me to many places in Japan.  We moved four times in six years. But it was no problem for me because it was a domestic move. In my 50s, we moved to the U.S. This was a big surprise for me.  I didn't know the country well and I didn't speak English well. I had a lot of worries. But now, I am very comfortable here. There are many things that I didn’t know until I moved here. I am learning English and I enjoy it. American culture and nature are interesting. My everyday life has many surprises and discoveries here. I'm having a great time like an adventure! Moving to the U.S. and having many experiences allowed me to see things from different angles. 

- Hiromi Kuwahara

Hiromi came to Santa Clara from Japan in 2019. She loves birds, dogs, and watching planes!

When my family moved to Saigon, it was a big change in my life. The city was big and crowded. Almost everybody spoke Chinese. My father had me go to a Chinese school. In the school I didn't speak Chinese, because when lived in a small town most people spoke Vietnamese. I couldn't speak Chinese it was very difficult for me. I took a course in listening, speaking, and writing. The teacher was friendly and taught passionately. I studied at the school about five years. Now I can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and a little English. It helps me when I work at a Chinese company in Vietnam, and  I travel to Asian countries, I don't worry about the languages. I appreciate my father. He gave me the chance to learn Chinese. That was a big change in my life. 

- Anh Ngo

When I was 53 years old I was diagnosed with cancer. It was a big change in my life. I had surgery and treatment, but I was scared to death every day. One day I realized how short life is. If my remaining time is limited anyway, it would be better to try new things and live happily than to live worrying about when I would die. And I had changed. I moved to California last year. I’m learning English, going to Mission College to study ESL, and making new friends from all over the world which makes me happy. I decided to live only looking forward. I enjoy my life every day because I am alive now!

- Ikuyo Nukiwa   

Ikuyo is from Yokohama, Japan. She loves cooking and is a certified macrobiotic and practicing vegan.

When I moved to the U.S., it was a big change in my life. My husband moved to an American company, so the whole family came to the U.S. It was a little lonely to leave my country, but I came to really like the weather, the people, and the culture here. I wanted to make friends here, so I tried to speak in English without being shy. And I got my driver's license for California. I also learned enough English to go shopping by myself. So now I feel that I am not just an immigrant, but that this is my country.

- Sachiyo Shimizu

Sachiyo was born in Kyoto, Japan and has been learning at Mission College for two years.

When I was a little girl, I became very ill. We went on a picnic with my big family. My siblings and cousins were there, too. The picnic area had many puddles. We played in the water together. And then I went home and I got really sick.  I felt very tired and I couldn't walk. My mom was very upset and we went to the hospital urgently at midnight.  The doctor said to my family "your daughter got infected in dirty water; she may die from infection.” My family felt so sad and they didn't know what to do. They waited three weeks, and I started to get better.  They were so happy to see me healthy again.  Then I started school in good health. I didn't remember much of those days, except for injections, the smell of medicine, and my little hospital roommate. I hope he is recovered, too. It was a meaningful event in my life. Now, I know the value of my health, and I wish everyone healthy days.

- Merve (Marway)Yazmaci

Merve (Marwa) was born in Istanbul, Turkey. Her hobbies are handcrafted arts, for example, ebru paintings. Ebru works of art are created from designs, patterns, and motifs onto sheets of paper, fabric, and other canvases. Ebru painting is popular in Turkey and Central Asia.