Aerial view of houses and intersecting streets.

Family in Suburban Michigan

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By Hadeel Al-Daoud

Natalie Safadi, a former Oakland University student who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Occupational Safety and Health, loves being around family and friends and enjoys being outdoors and playing sports.

Describe the place or places where you grew up. What was your life like there?

Woman smiling, wearing a black shirt, hair in a ponytail
Natalie Safadi, former Oakland University student in Occupational Safety and Health

I grew up in Warren, Michigan, a city in Macomb County, with my parents and sisters. I attended school in Warren from Kindergarten through freshman year. My family and I had a small house and everything around us was so close and convenient – grocery stores, things to do, school, as well as friends and family. It was a great place to live because everything felt so central and local; you didn’t really need a car to get around. I used to ride my bike to my friend’s house, to the gas station, and even school. Life was really great growing up in that neighborhood.

Why and how did you leave? Where did you go?

After I graduated my freshman year of high school, my parents decided they wanted to move. They still wanted to stay in Macomb County, but move further north. We ended up in the city of Washington Township. It was quite the change since things didn’t seem so close now, friends and family were a lot further, and everything around me changed. I had to adapt quickly.

Who came with you? Who did you leave behind? Why?

My parents, my siblings and myself all moved to Washington Township. It felt like we left everything and everyone. I especially felt like I left behind my friends, I had been in Warren all my life, [had] just started high school, and then it felt like I lost it all. I felt so lonely and wanted to stay behind, but I knew that where we were going was going to be a much better place.

Describe how your life is different where you live now.

My life now feels a lot different, adapting to change took a while, but it all felt like it was worth it in the end. I’m used to the area, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Things have evolved in the area and makes it feel like home. I’ve made new friends over the years. After graduating high school, I attended a local community college, and then moved on and attended Oakland University, which is also very close to home. I was introduced to so many different things in the area, new things to do in and around school. I was able to learn, meet new people, and pursue my bachelor’s degree.

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