My first impression of the United States was that the people had a warm sense of community, and loved working together to make things happen. Once I experienced this feeling I adopted this country as my second home and was set on coming to study here. As an international student it can sometimes feel overwhelming adjusting to a new culture, having spent a year or more researching the best college that suites you. It’s like shopping for the best package and having one chance to make the right choice.

WELL NOW YOU ARE HERE OR ON YOUR WAY…

Credit to: Slightlynorth

The first few moments of my new life away from home were nothing but chaos. My travel agent had made a slight miscalculation on my final destination so I had to make a round trip to reach Saint Louis. I flew for approximately twenty-two hours to reach Lambert International. From Harare, Zimbabwe I flew for two hours to Johannesburg, South Africa. From South Africa I travelled for eight and a half hours to Dakar, Senegal. That was a refueling stop quick stop before we embarked on another eight-hour flight to Washington DC. After running through customs I nearly missed my two hour flight to Kansas City. I had to grab my bags and switch airline carriers for my stop through Memphis before I reached Lambert International in another two hours.

After that experience, I consider myself a professional air traveler in the class of amateurs. I could not wait to snuggle up in my hotel room and sleep off my exhaustion. The next event scheduled on my itinerary was my university check-in, two days later. My first two weeks as a college student were spent in “screen-saver” mode. To this day I do not remember half of the information I was expected to retain to make my transition to college-life as smooth as possible.

Credit to: Lauren Withrow

Information overload

I felt like I was a step behind the local Americans. I had the extreme heat to adjust to. I had to learn to take responsibility of myself legally to keep in line with the laws of a foreign country, being deported before I had even settled would be tragic. I had been off sport for a while and had two weeks of conditioning training in scorching heat where I could have grilled my lunch by throwing it on the pavement. All these challenges forced me to take control of my life and for that I am grateful.

“Hakuna matata” it means no worries, Lion King

My suggestion to anyone about to embark on a similar journey is that I hope it will not be as grueling as my experience was. This gave me material to write about and that is a great gift. Just take it one step at a time it may sound overwhelming but always remember that it is possible, just look at those that have gone before you. Let the fear of the unknown be the fuel to your success in this new phase of your life!

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