I had ambitioned coming to the United States of America early on during my education in the Middle East because of my curiosity about the culture and society of the country. After the attacks of 9/11, I was even further enticed to come over in order to observe and understand why some people in the United States viewed the nation that way. Were their beliefs valid or not? I wanted to create my own opinion and also, I wanted to learn how to speak in English by immersing myself in the very country and culture that used the language.
Even though I was excited about coming to the United States to complete my English language and university education, I was apprehensive and worried about the kind of reception I would be receiving from Americans because of my Middle Eastern heritage and looks. I had heard a number of scary stories about racial profiling and was petrified of being placed under such a category. But as I made friends and gained unforgettable cultural and social experiences, I came to realize that all my worries were misplaced and America and its citizens are not what I thought it to be.
When I first landed in the United States, I found living with a host family in Austin, Texas. I spent my first year and seven months learning and grasping the rudiments of the English language by being an English student over at TIEP School. Being a foreign student in the country, my choice of residence was limited to either staying in a dorm on campus or renting my own place off but nearby the campus. I opted to live off campus with because I believed that it would be the best way for me to slowly immerse myself into the culture and social ways of my neighbors which, I expected, would be highly different from mine.
The first friend I ever made was the daughter of the family, Kate. She a native of Austin and was more than happy to show me around the town on week-ends and Friday nights. She helped me get settled in by introducing me to people and making sure that I would never be left out of the campus social activities. Classes were difficult for me at the start because I had a very weak foundation in the English language because it was not the language being used for teaching classes in my homeland.
It was so hard for me to learn the language because of the Texan accent of my teacher and it made it very difficult for me to understand what he was saying. I had a hard time understanding some of my classes because of the professors accents. Eventually, I had to go up to my teacher and tell her the truth. That I was having difficulties in class because I could not understand the accent. She advised me to buy a voice recorder and listen to the lectures over and over using earphones while I reviewed my notes at night. I tried his suggestion and found it highly useful.
I found the voice recorded lectures to be so much help that I continue to tape all the lectures and seminars that I attend to this very day. After completing my language training, I applied to and gained acceptance to the University of Delaware. I am currently attending university classes there and still live off campus with my friend Kate. I remember spending my first Christmas in the United States with my adopted family. That would be the family of my friend Kate. Her family treated me like one of their own and showed me how a wonderful Christmas time could be spent with strangers.
During this time, I was like a child experiencing something new for the very first time. I treasure all of my pictures and videos that were taken during that time. It showed me another side of life that I could have missed if I had not come to the U. S. A. to study. Overall, my experience in attending university in the United States was a life changing, eye-opening, social immersion that I will always treasure. I now know about America and understand its culture in a way that no amount of book reading will ever explain to me.