Lebanese immigrant finds his niche in the United States

Matt Douglas

After 15 years of applications, Hadi Matny finally received his green card to leave Lebanon for the United States.

“It was just like a long and tedious process,” Matny said.

Now a computer science junior, Matny said it’s common for people in Lebanon to apply for immigration, but many quit before they’re accepted. He said it isn’t more difficult for older people to immigrate, but those in a marriage or who work often decide to stay. Still 19 and nothing holding him back, he set his sights on college in the United States. 

“I decided I had some family in Seattle, so I would just go there and give it a shot,” Matny said.

Two months after arriving in the United States, Matny began taking classes at a local community college in Seattle. He said the culture shock wasn’t too severe, but it was surprising at times. 

Matny was astonished by how closed-off Americans were; people simply had no interest in strangers. The social barrier seemed to carry over to personal relationships as well. People spent a lot more time alone and students weren’t speaking with their families. Back in Lebanon, Matny said they went out every other day and ever since moving, he’s spoken with family every day.

“Everyone thinks that’s excessive,” Matny said. “For me, that’s normal.”

Matny said though he misses his friends and family, he’s moved on. It took about six months to find comfort in his new life. A year and a half later, he transferred to UT. Now people back home check on him more than he checks on them.

“You feel kind of annoying at first, like you’re relying too much on the people at home, but they understand,” Matny said. “When you stop, they get that as well.”