Trading croissants and baguettes for eggs and sausage

Amina Mamaty

Living well in a different country is all about assimilation. Like any other individual who is unfamiliar to the culture and the area, I had to make a few adjustments in order to fit in and make my new life a little bit easier.

The biggest one had to be food wise. I clearly realized I wouldn’t be able to eat croissants and baguettes every morning so when I first came here, I traded it for eggs and sausages. It was probably not the healthiest choice, but it tasted delicious. When I went back home after a year, everyone was calling me “American girl” because I was bigger. There was no way I was going to go to Fresh at 9 a.m., pass the bacon and go straight to the fruit section. American food and I have a love/hate relationship. Good for my wallet but bad for my body. I learned this through Freshman 25. Unfortunately, you can’t find French food everywhere here, but at the same time, that’s understandable. I am happy to see that they now have Crêpes in Fuel, though I have yet to taste them (I’ve heard good things).

Living at GVSU, I also realized that I would need a car at some point. I was so used to taking the subway or bus everywhere and at anytime, but when you’re in the middle of nowhere, it doesn’t work that way.

However, even though we complain a lot about out buses at GVSU, they do give us some convenience, you can’t deny it.

The language wasn’t the biggest adjustment I had to make, because it wasn’t an option. It’s either you speak English and make friends or be antisocial and lonely forever.

One day, I was waiting in line in Kirkhof and talking to my mom, in French, on the phone at the same time. When it was finally my turn, I unconsciously made my whole order in French. I wish you guys could see the look on that guy’s face. Priceless. I then apologize, in French, and realized I wasn’t speaking English.

Us Internationals have a different orientation during which we get to know other foreign students and learn about American laws and policies, and do outings. My year, they gave us two small books called “Introduction to the U.S. class room” and the other one was called “Introduction to the American Life.” To me, this shows that GVSU does its best to make us feel comfortable on campus. I was surprised to see that there is now an International section on GVSU’s website’s homepage. It will be useful for the future international students who desire to study in Allendale.

Something that hasn’t changed since day one, is the feeling of “home” when walking into the Padnos International Center. I know that if I am not feeling well, or am homesick, I can walk in, sit down in there for a second and have a casual conversation with someone that I know will understand where I am coming from.

Assimilating does not mean trading your own culture for another, but learning how to balance both. It’s either you hop on the 50 with your baggage full of differences, or get lost.

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