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From a YES student: Laraba’s holiday in Iowa

January 9, 2010

Laraba Sabtah, an 18 year-old YES student from Bauchi, Nigeria, lives in Waukee, Iowa, and attends Waukee High School. In this post, she shares about her first experiences with snow and the winter holidays in the United States.

Hi everyone,

It is my privilege to write about my experiences as an exchange student and as a YES7 student. This is my experience so far…

All my life, I’ve lived in a hot environment and never dreamed of leaving my family (much less my country), but with the help of God, I was able to.

When I first came to the U.S., I found it a kind of difficult to communicate with people in my school, family and even friends. Even in school, I found it difficult to understand my teachers. But despite all those things, I still tried my best to cope with all the difficulties.

Snow Experience

Since I was born, I have never seen snow. So the first time I saw it, I was so excited and happy. I went out to have some fun, not knowing that it would soon be very cold.

  • My host mum told me how it has been so long since snow fell at that period of time (November), and I was so surprised to hear that.
  • A lot of Americans never knew that I’ve never seen snow before, and when I told them, they all were very surprised.
  • My host mum always advices me to wear warm clothes in order to stay warm, but sometimes, I feel like it’s not that cold… until the day it got to zero degrees and even below zero. That was when I realized that she was right in telling me all those things.
  • One day, my host sister (Shelly) and I were going to school and our car got stuck. That was when I felt real cold because it toke us thirty minutes to get the car out, and if I hadn’t listened to what my host mum always told me, I would have frozen outside!
  • On the sixth of January 2010 , it snowed six to seven inches in Des Moines, and I was a kind of afraid because there was a lot of wind and we couldn’t go to school for two days.

Christmas and New Year Experiences

Christmas has always been one of the best celebrations in my life, and whenever it comes to Christmas holidays, I feel so happy.

During Christmas season in my country, a lot of people travel from towns and cities to their villages, while others travel to different places in order to have fun with family members. People make a lot of things like snacks and drinks, and they also buy new clothes, shoes and other things they need for Christmas celebration. Some families buy cows, goats or any kind of animal for the Christmas celebration because people will like to come to your home and no one will be happy seeing people in their homes and having nothing to eat or drink.

On the day before Christmas, the animals will be slaughtered and cooked or fried. And on Christmas Day, we go to church, sing, dance and other stuff. After coming back from church, we go out with friends, go to a lot of places and have a lot of fun.

I was so surprised to see how American’s celebrate Christmas. It’s kind of the same because they travel to places and people come over to their homes and they make a lot of snacks, drinks and food. But it was so cold that people didn’t go any where on Christmas day! I felt kind of sad because I’m used to going out with friends on Christmas Day, but it was a kind of good experience though.

I really enjoyed the New Year celebration because a lot of people came to our house, and we played a lot of games and other things. It was fun seeing how American’s celebrate the New Year, because we didn’t go to bed early, and we waited for it to turn midnight. It was fun counting “3, 2, 1…” and waiting for the clock to strike twelve, because I’ve never done that before. I really enjoyed it!

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