Friday, November 16, 2012

Coming to America

By Ali Arduini

Deciding to come to America from her hometown in “Beautiful Horizon,” Brazil was a surprisingly easy decision for college junior Marina Paiva to make. She knew this experience to study for a semester in a different country would be a very good resume builder, as well a great opportunity to perfect her English—a second language that is very important to have in Brazil. Her preparations for coming to this country were simple: pick a school in a desirable location, book her flights, and pack everything she could that would fit in her two large suitcases for an entire semester. The school she chose to spend her three months at turned out to be St. Thomas Aquinas College, because of its close proximity to New York City.

Marina had to say good-bye to her very large and close family before leaving, as well as her boyfriend of three years; saying bye to him turned out to be the hardest thing for her to do. However, she was able to get through it, board the plane, and make her way over to this foreign country where she had only been once before. Flying into John F. Kennedy Airport, Marina had to make her way from the airport to Port Authority in Manhattan by herself. After taking a shuttle to the bus station, she had to take the bus to Sparkill, where she managed to find the right direction to campus. Seeing her with two large suitcases, a young man offered to drive her to the campus after claiming he had gone to school there. Marina accepted, and finally found herself at her home for the next semester.

It was not until a few days later when Marina met the two girls she would be living with-- Ali Arduini and Ruthie Pluviose. “At first I thought they were like the girls from Beverly Hills,” she says with a laugh. “You know, like that movie Clueless? Ruthie was all fancy with her outfit and lipstick, and they kept saying ‘oh my god!’” Although this does not sound like the best first impression, she added that the girls were very welcoming and nice to her, and they soon formed a close bond. She said that meeting her roommates was one of the best things about coming to this country.

As the weeks went by, Marina found that she was soon getting used to some of these new differences in this country. The biggest thing she says is the food, in that it is not as tasty as it is in her country; however, this could be due to the fact that most of her meals are eaten in the STAC cafeteria. She also says that the music and dancing is very different in this country. In Brazil, she’ll attend samba clubs that play this type of Brazilian music. Here, most of the clubs play hip-hop, house, and today’s radio hits; it is rare for her to hear any Brazilian music in a public place. Another aspect of this country that she had to get used to was the weather; In her city in Brazil, the coldest it will get to be is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, although most of the time it is much warmer than that. Even now in October she still is not used to this weather and complains about the cold, when she has not even seen the worst of it.

Although she is not happy about the weather, it still is not the hardest thing about being away from her home country. She finds it very difficult to be away from her family and not be able to spend time with them like she used to. Although she talks to them almost every day through phone calls and video messaging, it still isn’t the same as when she was back home with them. Marina also faces the challenges of going to all of her classes in English. Although she knows most of the language, it is still sometimes difficult for her to understand everything in her lectures and write down the important things in a timely manner. There is also an overwhelmingly greater amount of homework here than in Brazil. Being an “A” student there, it is important for Marina to do well in her classes and learn as much she can so she can exercise her hard-earned knowledge when she goes back.

Although she has a couple more months here, Marina looks forward to going back to her life as a student and intern. However, she still is excited for some of the upcoming plans she has before her return to Brazil. She would like to spend more time in New York City, and also explore other neighboring cities and destinations. Marina also wants to learn more about our country and experience real American culture as a young person. She still has a lot to do here, but so far her experiences have been more than memorable.

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