Katrina Macadaeg hopes to attend medical school someday. A University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) graduate, she is in the midst of awaiting her Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) results and is working in the emergency department at UNLV. However, Macadaeg’s future may be deterred by factors other than her performance — she was recently denied visa extension to stay in the United States.
Macadaeg obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biology, contributed to research with Children’s Heart Center, and is a member of Fil-Am Las Vegas Seventh Day Adventist Church. She has been residing in Las Vegas, Nevada for approximately five years, all of which she spent studying and excelling in university. Post graduation, Macadaeg prepared for her MCAT examination and worked with doctors in her school’s emergency department. In good time she was able to create a life for herself, making new friends and a new home. Macadaeg’s story is common among those who live abroad and it questions: how long does it take to build a new lifestyle and a new home?
The struggle of many expats living abroad is figuring out whether or not life back home was worth coming back to, especially if you finally found footing in your new state. Macadaeg’s reason to move to the US was due to education instability and focus. “My dad wanted me to move to Las Vegas because I was really distracted and I wasn’t doing well in school. My dad purchased a house in Vegas because the price was and still is cheap, the cost of living compared to Canada was very low. So, because of my situation at home, my dad suggested I go to Las Vegas for college.”
While studying at UNLV, Macadaeg immersed herself to Las Vegas. Like many expats, she progressed from a foreigner to an active local as the years passed.
Macadaeg expressed that the transition to US life was easy, but conforming to a new home was much harder. “It took probably a couple of years, even though the transition was easy it still took time to adjust living by myself and away from my friends from home.”
Her recollections of the early years were a tale of sadness and happiness, but she would later express that she assimilated to US life. “It was only until I established a really good set of friends and started going to church in Las Vegas that I really felt like I started to belong.”
With her student visa reaching an end as her undergraduate life did, fortunately Macadaeg was able to find a way to stay in the US — which also comes with a deadline. “I first came to Las Vegas on an F-1 Student Visa,” says Macadaeg. [It is stated that F-1 Student Visas are nonimmigrants that are admitted to the United States temporarily to pursue a full-time study in universities or other academic institutions. F-1 are categorized as Foreign Students.] “When I graduated, I applied for a post completion OPT, which stands for Optional [Practical] Training. It is a type of work authorization that allows me to experience work in my field of interest.”
In July, that visa expired and Macadaeg applied for an extension. Last month she received a letter that her application had been denied. She stated that she will try again with the help of a lawyer in hopes that it will be reconsidered.
Macadaeg now considers her life abroad as her home. While the future may be blurry, she still sees a future with the US. “I’ve done a lot of growing up here. I completed my bachelor’s here and started working in my field of interest. I am working hard to try and establish residency here. Hopefully in five years I will be attending medical school somewhere in the United States.”
(Kathy L. contributed editing)