ASPIRASI : HADHINAH FELICE, A SABAHAN IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Hadhinah Felice

 

ASPIRASI for this time wants to introduce a young Sabahan woman who has traveled and worked overseas, especially at United States. Besides traveling and working, she also has managed to travel, get experieces and see around the world. Let’s get to know her story of living abroad. May it be an inspiration for all Sabahan youngsters as well.

 

A little bit about me

My name is Hadhinah Fawwazah Nasaruddin (or Hadhinah Felice in the USA) and I am turning 33 this year! I was born and raised in Sandakan, Sabah, until I moved out of the state to study in Melaka, Peninsula Malaysia. I have a master’s degree in Internet Networking Technology from Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM).

I am currently working as a cannabis quality control and compliance personnel at Premium Produce LLC in Las Vegas, Nevada. Since 2018, I have been guiding Malaysian tourists to see some parts of The America’s Southwest as part of my own gig. It was going well until early 2020 when I had to stop operation to focus on my career, and coincidentally & unfortunately, the pandemic began. 

A current job at workplace

View at my other office

 

How did I end up here? 

In 2014, I migrated to the USA to be with my now ex-husband. Before I arrived in the USA, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy my life here. I doubted that I’d love it. I do now! After seeing all 50 states in the course of 2 and half years, I changed not only my mind about this country but my readers’ minds too.

I never got the opportunity to study abroad, and little that I knew I am able to make a living in the USA! I even wrote a book about it, and it’s published in Malaysia in April of 2018. It’s still being sold at major Malaysia bookstores and online at Kinokuniya or Shopee! I still blog about my life here from time to time on my Facebook and Instagram. 

My book

What is it about the USA?

I can’t pick a single best experience, but the USA is so well-suited to road trips that I recommend it for anyone who visits, especially in the west. Surprisingly you can travel from mountains to desert to beaches in a couple days, see famous places from movies, meet American Indians, and see so many National Parks, which offer canyons, geysers, stone arches, glaciers, tundra, and plenty of solitude. Driving is the best way to find wildlife, and we’ve seen bears, coyotes, bald eagles, whales, bison, moose, and so many others.

My Instagram is a definite proof of how beautiful this country is. Although photos alone won’t do justice! Contrary to popular beliefs, Americans are generally nice and friendly toward foreigners, even if you’re a Muslim! They’d be happy to help you, and you’ll notice that the usual first question when they see you is “Hey! How are you doing?”. It’s relatively safe for solo travelers to travel and even drive on roads in the USA. Having done it extensively, I can absolutely recommend it. 

On Africa Safari tour

 

Past travel stories

My courage to live and travel abroad sparked in the beginning of 2011 when I started backpacking and I was in my final year of my master’s degree. I had part time jobs and also made money by proofreading theses and helping my foreign classmates with their paperwork. My first destination outside of Malaysia was Thailand. Excited to hold the red passport for the first time, and with RM120 in my hands, I travelled by bus from Melaka all the way to Bukit Kayu Hitam so I could cross the border to Sadao, Thailand. From Sadao I took a crazy mini bus ride to Krabi and spent 2 nights there before heading to Phuket. I spent five days on the island and during those adventurous days, I contracted dengue fever. I was forced to cut the trip short.

The journey back to Malaysia was gruesome. My first travel experiences toughened me, which was their greatest reward. In the past I’ve mostly traveled by myself. I’ve met so many people from all around the world since I started traveling and most of them are now my friends whom I still keep in touch with. To date, I’ve been to all parts of Thailand, traveling with overnight trains, buses, (crazy) minivans, tuk tuks, taxis, songthaews, water taxis, you name it. Thailand is so significant to me because it’s the country where I started my life as a backpacker. During my early years of traveling, I did a pretty bad job at documenting my journeys because I couldn’t afford to buy a camera or a smartphone. That’s one thing I truly regret, but I’m glad I remember all the details of my travels and have lived to tell the tale.

The greatest challenge of living on the road is being separated from Malaysian food! 😂 On raya day/month, it would feel quite lonely and alienating sometimes. Fortunately I have a Malaysian friend here in Las Vegas who also cooks and sells authentic Malaysian foods that I wouldn’t have time to do sometimes! To date, I’ve lucky enough to set foot in more than 20 countries including Indonesia, Singapura, Laos, Turki, Itali, Slovenia, Croatia, Jerman, Belanda (The Netherlands), Perancis, Czechia (Republik Czech), Hungary, Romania, Amerika Syarikat (ke semua 50 negerinya), Jepun, Australia, Denmark, Ireland, Ireland Utara (UK), Iceland, England, Scotland, Tanzania, and Mexico, in 5 continents!

My fondest memories are actually when I visited Africa for the first time in 2018. Tanzania had always been on my list, and having to see that country including Zanzibar was truly an eye-opening experience. I went on a 4-day safari tour, sleeping in an outdated tent in the middle of the savannah in Serengeti National Park, seeing the rarest Bleck rhinos and the other African plains wildlife that are just truly remarkable. 

Dream came true, Havasu Falls, Arizona

 

What happened after the divorce?

I moved back to Malaysia in 2018, supposedly to work on the promotion of my first book, and to perhaps find a career in tourism. I did briefly work for a friend at her tour agency, but it didn’t work out for me. I eventually met someone again, thinking I’d get married again, but it was another heartbreak. One day in September 2018, I got a wake up call. That was when I thought about bringing Malaysians to tour the USA, to take advantage of my permanent residency status in the country. So I booked a trip for 7 people, and we flew in mid-October.

I had the return fraction of my flight ticket, but I ended up staying in the USA with only one small carry-on luggage from Malaysia, to date. I have found a home, a career here, and someone who makes me happy for almost 2 years! I also have a pet cat named Turkey Leg! I live by this:”I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talent, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path.”-Soledad O’Brien. 

With clients at other job

Through all this, I learned that I am stronger than I think and that I am capable of making it alone overseas. 

While in London

Home, Nevada

Monument Valley, Arizona-Utah

 

To get to know and communicate more with Hadhinah Felice, do follow her at facebook.com/hannah.fawwazah

Submit your story to be published in the ASPIRATION slot of the Sabah Youth Council website by sending an article, picture or video to our email address: beliasabah@gmail.com

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