Lost in Transy-lation

This…is kind of how I felt.

You have often read about students going to study abroad away from their homes in the U.S. They often talk about culture shock, the feelings they have about being so far away from home and the things they see that would be fascinating to you. But what about the other way around? What about the people that come here and experience those things?

I am a senior international student from Germany and have my own stories of culture shock, feelings and fascination that might be a little different from the usual.

When I try to remember my first few days, it is honestly a little hazy. The reason was my jet lag. I overslept the first three meetings during orientation and I was behind in getting to know people. I felt like I was at a disadvantage. All I remember was how open-minded everybody was. I had late night talks in front of the dorms and I got greeted by people on the go. People I never met before! Everyone was friendly and fascinated when I could share my perspective. I realized that I was really not that much of an oddball. Most of us knew maybe one or two people prior to arriving on campus, but coming here by yourself is not as strange as I expected.

Culture Shock is associated with sadness, loneliness, and the desire to go home. To be honest, I forgot writing my mom at home because I was so fascinated with what was happening. I had no time to be sad or lonely and honestly: I had no chance to be, because of the people that approached me and gave me the confidence to approach others. Let this be known to you out-of-staters: You will rarely find so many people that are excited to meet you again, like you do during your first days in college.

Soon I would go on trips around Lexington and scream every time someone would turn right on red (in Europe, a red light is a red light: You stop till its green, no exceptions).

I would freak out about inches and pounds and Fahrenheit (to this day I don’t know if 30 degrees Fahrenheit is really hot or really cold).

And what are nickels, and dimes any way? They’re the only coins I have seen that have no real number on them. And why is that the dime is smaller than the nickel?

However, all those questions and problems I had became fun, knowing I had people that I could talk to about it. That is what made my first year at Transylvania great.

Today, I don’t get shocked any more. I might get confused and I might vocalize it. But now what I do, is look at those international students here this year, and think to myself, what a great time I had my first year, getting to know the people I am now really good friends with.

Matthaus Huelse
Class of ’13

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