What Has This International Student Acquired from the US?
So, apart from classes and things I learned on how to be a good engineer and professional being for the real world…I have also learned a little bit more about living here in the US. Most of these are observations, things that I’ve got to try and things I’ve come to embrace because I live here now.
On the other hand, there are also things that influence me and I just acquire them. I can now blame Iowa or the US in general for everything I do now…just kidding, but really.
But yeah, here are some things I’m certain now and that probably every international student will think about if they spend more than a year studying in the US:
1- Coke tastes better than Pepsi here
You see, they have different taste all around the world. I’ve always liked Pepsi better until I came here. Now I don’t really know how to feel, but for the time being, I’ll stay with Coke.
2- I’m starting to forget words in my own language
Not like completely forget, but there are times I’m talking to my mom, stop and think: “how in the world do you say this in Spanish?” And I struggle more as time passes. But you know, I can say I’m bilingual now. I mean, it’s true practice of the English language and it’s crazy how a couple of years ago it was the other way around…
3- American football starts to make sense to me…sort of
I don’t think even some people from here understand it entirely, but at least I know some of the “science” behind it. I’ve watched the Super Bowl every year and I still don’t get the big deal of just one day. Still think football/futbol/soccer is better…the World Cup is life!
4- I feel the need to celebrate Thanksgiving each year now
Back home we just got the basic premise of this day and shared a little meal…but nothing compares to the hours of everyone preparing, cooking, and baking everything for the big day. Piece of advice, try to spend Thanksgiving with an American family…it’s the best! Also, you pretty much get to test your stomach’s true capacity…and even go beyond that because everything on the table is just delicious. Pumpkin pie is also a plus.
5- I have my accent/dialects all mixed up
When I think I’m very neutral-Iowan-like with my English, I say things like “soda”, “you betcha”, or among other different words. Also, I may slip into a Minnesotan, Southern or New York accent on rare times. But that’s what happens when you get words and dialects from people all over the country…and TV. So yeah, not consistent. On top of that, add my slight Spanish accent. I came with one accent, I’ll get out with 10. I bet I sound hilarious sometimes…
6- Walmart has…everything?
There’s nothing like Walmart in Venezuela. No store is convenient enough to have everything in one. Even though I have been there countless times before coming for college, it’s now that I’ve come to appreciate what it is. You can find pretty much anything and everything you’re NOT looking for too…most of the times I end up buying something that wasn’t in my plans. It also makes for great late night trips and whatnot…
7- My country, I say it with my own accent
I’m so used to maintain an American accent while talking at all times, but I had to stop saying “Venezuela” with it. For some weird reason, people kept thinking I was saying Minnesota. And even then…those two words apparently just sound very similar.
8- Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches
It’s one of the greatest things I’ve tasted in my life. When I used to hear about it I just thought it was ridiculous, but when I did taste it…wow.
9- Country music
Let’s say the closest thing to country I knew was Carrie Underwood. So when I came to Iowa and country was pretty much everywhere…I decided to try. At first I was not a fan, but then I listened to Luke Bryan, Rascal Flatts, among others…and Luke Bryan (swoon). I still find it a very repetitive genre, but at least I can embrace it now…and Carrie Underwood is still my fave.
10- Different kinds of measurements
It’s not a secret when the US is one of the only countries who doesn’t use the “metric system” or uses Fahrenheit instead of Celsius. “Oh, I’m 5.11” or “It’s 70 degrees out”…that didn’t really mean anything to me. I guess I needed to learn it, so now I can confidently say I am 5.2 and it’s currently 75 degrees out. I know my math!
11- Diversity is real
So many people decide to come to the US. I didn’t know the percentage was that high for international students even at Iowa State…and I believe it’s sort of the same for other universities. Here is where a lot of cultures mix together and I really appreciate–even thought they don’t use the metric system–how here is like a melting point. 10 points for the US!
12- A different sense of punctuality
Back home, we have our own sense of punctuality. Sometimes, if they say something is at 6pm, we arrive at 7pm or later. Also, people dealt with things that way so they invited people to the event an hour before it actually started to get them come on time. I know, it’s a bad habit but it’s what we’re used to. Here, if you don’t show up at a certain time you’re doomed. I couldn’t let that destroy my good image, of course…
13- Love for coffee
I despised coffee at all before coming here. Now I can’t live without it. This might just be because I’ve needed it to stay up for several nights…you know, college life is rough. But here coffee is so accessible everywhere and there are so many options (practically anywhere on campus, Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, Dunkin Donuts, etc.) that you just can’t help liking it. Plus, you look sophisticated and all.
14- Relationships with very nice people
Coming to a completely different country is scary, and you never really know what’s in store for you. The Midwest people, especially, are very kind and willing to help you with anything. I mean, I never expected to feel this welcome and now that I do, feeling homesick sometimes doesn’t involve me not liking where I live. Although, you never know, they might be up to something with you…
15- “USA, USA, USA”
I developed the strange “patriotic” sense to root for the US on sporting events now. For example, remember that World Cup match against Portugal? I left Buffalo Wild Wings with a sore throat–no kidding. I always dreaded those cheers, but I guess you can’t help it when you live with it now…yeah, they’re good and whatnot.
I blame you, United States of America! But thank you for accepting this international student, haha!