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Alumni Update: My Second Time in Iowa

September 14, 2009

Abubakar Audu studied in Iowa with YES3 in 2005-2006. During his first time in Iowa, he lived in Cedar Rapids and attended Washington High School. Now, Abubakar attends the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. He is studying electrical engineering.

Abubakar now attends the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls

Abubakar now attends the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls

When I left Nigeria in August of 2005 to come to the United States, I was nervous about what I was going to experience. The United States had been at war with some of the Middle Eastern countries since late 2001.

Adding impetus to my nervousness was the fact that all of the American movies that ever got into the interior of Nigeria at the time were all action films. Action movie actors such as Chuck Norris, Arnold Swartzenegger and Van Damme among others were and to some extent still are popular movie stars.

However, the skyscrapers, cars and the high tech electronic devices that were depicted in those movies seemed awesome. So a typical view of America in interior Nigeria at the time was that of a tumultuous society that had so much to offer and depended on such power to do whatever it wanted and get away with it; yet a country where everybody is rich.

Abubakar plays in the snow during his first stay in Iowa in 2001

Abubakar experiences his first winter and sledding experience as a high school exchange student in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in December 2005.

After that first trip, my nervous tensions were removed.

I was a high school student during my first trip to the U.S. I went to Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

There are many surprises for Nigerian students coming to study in the U.S. These surprises include, but are not limited to the challenge of homework, movement around the school to find your classes, studying among white kids, variety of classes the school offers, difference in the methods of teaching and the use of modern learning materials.

These challenges are difficult, but can be overcome. Studying in the U.S. can be very exciting and rewarding. I now attend the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Typical of America, there is always something new.

As a university student, I have kept my relationship with my former host parents, but I do not live with them. In fact, having a university host family is optional unlike when I came as a high school student. Then, I stayed with two sets of host parents and relied a lot on them for decisions and advice. Decision-wise, things are a little tough now.

Most people I knew before said my English has improved. They appear to understand me better unlike before when I had to explain much of what I said to get a message across. I attribute this improvement partly to my first trip to the U.S. and partly to the fact that I have more experience giving speeches, listening and teaching.

It took me less than three days to adapt to American food, language, culture and educational system unlike on my first trip, when my exchange student friends and I had troubles differentiating hot dogs from real dogs; when everybody appeared to be mumbling words so quickly we could hardly attach meanings to them. The first time, it took me over five weeks to fully adapt and up to about two months to begin to be able to understand conversations fully.

Both of the two families I stayed with during high school are happy to have me back. I visited my first host family, the Eck’s, on Saturday, August 29th and the Healy’s on Saturday, September 5th. Both families are happy that I came back and treated me as their son who has been abroad for three years!

Abubakar picks pumpkins with his host family during his first visit to Iowa through IRIS's YES Program

Abubakar visits a pumpkin patch near Cedar Rapids, Iowa in October 2005. Pictured with Abubakar is his American host father Kevin Eck, host sister Serena and host brother Samuel.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Adamu Ishaq permalink
    May 3, 2010 10:13 AM

    Abubakar is a great man. I pray for him to beable and make it. and also finish with flying colors thereby making us very proud.

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