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My first month in America

September 18, 2012

What do twenty students from 9 different countries have in common? They have each spent 1 month living throughout Iowa, immersing themselves in American culture, school and volunteer work.

As soon as the students met their host families on Aug. 12, 2012, they were taken to their new homes to begin school. Below are 6 accounts on what the students have been up to, what they have learned how they feel about America.

Munira celebrating 80’s day at school

Munira- “I think my host family is the perfect match for me,” said Munira from Nigeria. Her host family has introduced her to extended family and friends, as well as went on a picnic near the Mississippi River where she got the chance to learn a few outside games.

Something that surprised Munira was her classmates’ reaction to her headscarf. “I thought people would laugh at me, but I was wrong. People told me I look nice and beautiful.” She also says her first few weeks have been great because she has made so many friends.

When she isn’t busy with friends and family, Munira has been volunteering at her community church. She also spends much of her day at school as a member of the cross-country team, renaissance club, choir, and a homecoming committee. “My school is wonderful,” said Munira. “I am really having a good time.”

Spending the day in Okoboji

Ryan- “Honestly when I got to America, I was a little bit nervous,” said Ryan. Things quickly changed when he began to embrace the differences. He said, “I’m anxious to learn about cultures outside of my own.” He sees this opportunity as a chance to “grow, explore and learn” and considers himself “honored.”

Ryan’s school and home life with his host family have both been successful. He has been able to make several friends at school and says, “We’ve hung out together, had Chinese buffet and went to a football game.” He has already been interviewed by the school newspaper and said, “I had a really good time with them.”

While school is Ryan’s main priority, food has seemed to be of major importance to him, and he loves it! “I got used to the American food that I expected I wouldn’t like while in my home country (Philippines). The first food I tasted here was tacos.  I couldn’t explain the feeling when I tasted that food! It was like heaven.”

Ryan also has a sweet tooth. “My host mom is really sweet to my brother and I. She always gives me chocolate! Meanwhile my host dad is fun to laugh with. Almost everyday we have a smile on our faces. I am grateful I have a good host family.”

James swimming with host family and friends

James- “My host family is so nice. They consider me a part of their family,” said James. He and his host family have gone boating, seen fireworks and spend time cooking at home. “I have learned how to make some American food, such as pancakes,” he said.

James has taken the time to stand back and look at both the similarities and differences between America and his home country of Tanzania. “Iowa is quite different from home because it is so nice and friendly here. One thing that surprised me about America is the way people love each other.”

James has been embraced by his classmates at school, who like to hear him share stories about Tanzania. His favorite subject is Physics “because there is no difference, and I also understand the teacher so well.”

When he isn’t hanging out with his host brother or volunteering with animals, James has begun practicing band and cross-country and plans on playing basketball and tennis later this year.

Batuhan at Arnold’s Park

Batuhan- “I think my host family is the most beautiful family ever. When I finish college in Turkey, I’m going to try to come here again. I really love my family,” said Batuhan.

Although Batuhan is already planning far into the future, he is enjoying every minute of American culture. He, his host parents and host brother (Ryan) took a trip to Okoboji where they visited the lake and Arnold’s Park. Batuhan spends much of his time with Ryan, and is able to make friends through weightlifting and school.

Batuhan said, “I really like school because I am really good at pre calculus and physics. They are not hard for me!”


Meutia preparing for a presentation on Indonesia

Meutia- “I didn’t know Iowa was this modern. From the description on Google I thought Iowa just had corn everywhere, but luckily my house is very near T.J.Maxx and a mall. I can’t believe that, and that there is no trash here. The houses here look so comfortable and beautiful. I like it,” said Meutia. She has also noticed the differences in lifestyle and dress in America compared to Indonesia.

“Students wear high heels and sandals to school, and don’t forget the makeup! In my school (Indonesia) we have so many strict rules, especially for girls. We have to wear long sleeves with long skirts and black shoes,” said Meutia. She thinks it’s “cool” that “students can wear whatever they like and are comfortable wearing here.”

Meutia is also fond of the American school system and claims to feel “on fire” with excitement when she walks from class to class in her huge school. Along with being a member of the World Cultures Club, she keeps busy with homework, volunteering at Meals from the Heartland and spends time with her host siblings at home where she has “24-hour internet connection, a beautiful bedroom and a bathroom.”

One thing Meutia finds interesting is the age to which the elderly work in America. “I want to work until I am old like people here do. Indonesian passion to work is not as big as America’s. Here, even grandparents still have a passion to buy their own things, and use sticks to walk!”

Titus learning how to ride a bike

Titus- “I think they are the best. They show me love and most of all, they support me in every way possible,” says Titus about his host family. Titus has begun to really enjoy life in Iowa as he makes friends, studies and learns new things!

“I just love this place. Life here is much different because you get to move around and hang out with friends at your convenience,” he said.

His favorite class is American government because he is able to learn about America. Titus has enjoyed playing basketball with his host family, dancing and has even learned how to swim and ride a bike!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. halima umar permalink
    September 18, 2012 3:51 PM

    Ha ha, Nigerians and mexican food.

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