Studying in America While My Family Stays in Sudan

Aliaa, an international student from Sudan, shares what it’s like to be away from her husband and children while pursuing her education in the United States.

She said she doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s day, because for her, being with her husband, everyday is Valentine’s day.

Aliaa Maar and Mogahid KhalfAlla, a young couple from Sudan, have been married for four years, but the time they really spent together were only two years and a half. For Aliaa, being apart from someone she loves is not a new experience, but still, its something that she has a hard time to go through.

Aliaa Marr international student voice magazine
Aliaa and her husband, Mogahid

From the time they met to getting married only took seven months. I know it’s sounds crazy for most of the people, but Aliaa and Mogahid thought there was no point in waiting. Aliaa mentioned that by the time they met she had already got engaged with someone who her family introduced to her, but she didn’t love him. Aliaa tried her best not to disappoint her family, but she could not let the right one go. “I know my mom would be very sad,” she said, “but it was not that I didn’t care about her, it was that I cared about my happiness.”

This might be the hardest decision for Aliaa by the time, but I believe, that was one of the best decision she made in her life.

Aliaa is a master's of technology student at Kent State University in Ohio
Aliaa is a master’s of technology student at Kent State University in Ohio

Not very long after they got married, Aliaa had to be apart from Mogahhid because of work for four moths, than again six months. She tried to keep herself busy and distracted herself from missing too much, but you could see from her face everyday that she was not happy. “I told myself I would never do this again,” she said, “there is nothing harder then keep apart from someone you love.”

Sometimes, life likes to play with us, things go the opposite way from it’s supposes to be.

There was a great opportunity came to Aliaa’s life; an opportunity to get a higher education in the US; an opportunity to see different side of the world; and an opportunity to make a better future. However, the opportunity also brought the reality to Aliaa that she had to face being away from her husband again, and even more, away from her two little girls, one is two-year old the other one is only a year old.

But thinking of study in the US would bring more advantages in her future career and be able to provide a better living condition for her kids, she made the tough decision to take the opportunity. At the beginning her whole family came and stayed with her for few month until she settled down at Kent State University in Ohio, now she talks to her husband and daughters back in Sudan through Skype when they are both free.

Aliaa's family is back home in Sudan as she pursues her education in the United States
Aliaa’s family is back home in Sudan as she pursues her education in the United States

“The first month after they left, I spent the whole month crying like a baby,” she laughed.

School work and projects are keeping Aliaa busy and helping her get used to the life of away from family but whenever someone asks her about her family she would feel sad right away, even now. But she acknowledged that these experiences of being apart from her husband helped her become more independent. “I learned that I can solve my issues without bothering him,”she said.

At the end of our conversation Ailaa told me something that made me think, she said she did not believe the idea of soul mate but after meeting her husband she realized that there are possibilities to find a person you see him as a same person like yourself, she feels what he feels, she thinks what he thinks. The only boundary between them is their skin. “There is nothing like us, there is nothing like me and him together.”

After writing a few articles about long distance relationships I deeply feel this is a really hard way for couples to go. But no matter how far away, how long is the time difference; there is nothing that could hinder true loves. Here, I want to give the best wishes to the long distance couples. I wish they could be together through the storm.

Medina Tohti international student voice magazineMaidina Tuohuti is an international student from China studying journalism at George Fox University, a private Christian university in Oregon. Maidina is a journalism intern with ISV Magazine, writing about her own experiences as a Muslim student in the U.S. as well as writing feature articles on topics important to all international students. 

Maidina can be reached at

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