How Getting Deported Led Me To Where I Am Today

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Meet Sena Narottama

Sena Narottama is a soon-to-be graduate Business Information Systems at UC Riverside. He has a strong passion for helping people succeed as he works with the UCR Undergraduate Admissions to advocate for UCR’s prospective students. Outside of school, he is actively involved in the performing arts; specifically, he spends his summers training world-class performers.

How Getting Deported Led Me To Where I Am Today

As an international student I’ve been deported before. The worst feeling is that it wasn’t my fault; I can’t control those things. I was coming back home from Indonesia, and when I came back to continue my study, I wasn’t let back in the country. It was early in my college experience so I was super stressed. All these thoughts flooded my head of “what am I going to do with my study?” or “should I give up and stay back home?”

I became very depressed when they actually flew me back home. I missed a whole year of school because I had to reapply for my Visa. It took a whole year of my life of postponing school and putting my life on pause; it brought me down so much. But, it made me realize that things happen and that there’s always a way out.

What has helped me reorder my life and bring back happiness is setting small, attainable goals. I observe what I can do with myself and will help me, even as small as making my bed in the morning. I always have little notepads with me and every single day I write bullet points of things I want to accomplish in a day. So today my list consisted of making coffee and getting on this call. The feeling of knowing that I’ve done these little things makes me feel like I’m on track. It has really brought me back to reality, and it’s a safety net that if I do fall back down, I refer to the notepad to achieve small, attainable goals to get me back on track.

Post-It Note for Goals to Accomplish

Trying to come to terms with my worst nightmare, deportation, was difficult because it was out of my control. However, I was able to look at the situation from a different perspective. I thought about how hard I’ve worked, how much money I invested in this college education abroad, and the efforts my parents put in to help me get this far. These reasons pushed me into action. I developed a lot of courage to talk to people through seeking help. I told people my story and they were more than willing to help me. 

My deportation equipped me for any other hardship down the road. I almost felt untouchable after I overcame it. It gave me a lot more confidence in public speaking and being honest. I learned to not keep my feelings to myself, and instead, I learned to share it with my peers. My community around me found inspiration from my story, and that is one of the things that I’ve given back.

This situation also helped in other aspects such as professionalism and organization. Because I had to contact the Embassy so many times, it helped me develop professionalism in how I carry myself both in person and in emails. Also, I had to stay organized because there were so many papers to file. That’s where I learned to use post-it notes to keep track of my small, attainable goals because I would always have to keep track of all my documents. I also learned to always make a pros and cons list to help me make big decisions. Things can get caught up in your brain so writing things out can help declutter your mind. I’ve used this pros and cons list for so many other big decisions such as pursuing an MBA, applying for jobs, or buying a car. 

UC Riverside Friends

I feel like these small tips and tricks like writing my tasks out on post-its and making a pros and cons list has provided more tangible results. Whenever I would listen to professionalism talks, I would feel so far removed from their advice. This is why I like the small tips and tricks I’ve adopted over the years because I am able to visualize and feel the notes I write in my hands making it more real. 

The last word of advice I want to give is to set manageable expectations for yourself. This is where I feel like my practice of making a pros and cons list brings me back to reality. When I write out all the cons, I am a little more level headed going into something new.

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