What has been the greatest challenge you have faced as an international student in the U.S.? What steps did you take to overcome that challenge?
The greatest challenge I have faced as an international student in the U.S. would probably be the food. I am a picky eater, which made it very hard to keep up with my eating habits. I sometimes miss meals because I don’t know what to eat. I miss my mom’s cooking every single day. I have come to the realization that my survival in the U.S. depends on how fast I can adjust to the American way of life, which includes the food culture.The way I overcame this challenge was by trying a little bit of everything at every opportunity. By trying out everything, I was able to determine what I like. I enjoy a variety of foods now because I was persistent with trying the unfamiliar.
What is the greatest cultural difference between your home country and the USA?
Everybody has to make cultural adjustments when they move to a new place. For me, the greatest cultural difference was how to drive on the U.S. roads. Driving in Nigeria wasn’t that much of a big deal because only the major towns and cities have posted speed limits and road signs. In America, it is the complete opposite. There are stop lights, posted speeds, road signs, and street markings on every road. Driving was a nightmare for the first few weeks. I was able to conquer this by reading a booklet I received from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and observing how Americans drive. A few months afterward, I was able to take the driving skills test and exam, which I passed. I am now a licensed driver and have since made many road trips because I feel confident driving in the United States.
What are you studying? Why did you choose that specific major/concentration?
I am currently studying sociology. I chose to study sociology because I am perplexed about society’s problems, and want to study the community so that I can understand what components make or break it. With this knowledge, I will someday pursue studies that will help fix some of the worst issues in societies today. My field of study gives me an avenue for continuous learning through research, and it is one of those fields where people constantly learn and are paid to learn.
What advice would you give to international students about working on their English speaking skills in the U.S.?
I would encourage any international student trying to work on their English skills to look into what their campus has to offer. Students can ask questions and seek advice from their professors, talk to a representative at the international student services office, ask a librarian for tips, and use their school’s website. While students should use the resources available to their advantage, they also must be disciplined enough to patiently work on their English until they are satisfied with their progress. I was able to improve my English by enrolling in speaking, listening, and reading classes. I also took advantage of tutoring; I would attend a group speaking session with native speakers twice a week. I also signed up for a one-on-one tutoring session four times a week, which has helped me tremendously in becoming more fluent in English. The key was using all of the available resources at my disposal.
Why did you choose to study at Brigham Young University in Idaho?
Brigham Young University – Idaho (BYU) is affiliated with my church. I figured it would be easier for me to fit and blend in with the other students if we had the same religious and ethical values. The college is also more affordable because it is subsidized by the church. Due to the subsidization, here at BYU-Idaho, everybody is encouraged to become successful at whatever they choose to study, and held to these expectations by the school’s academic standards. One of these standards is called the “Honor Code.” As a student you are expected to:
- Be honest
- Live a chaste and virtuous life
- Obey the law and all campus policies
- Use clean language
- Respect others
- Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and substance abuse
- Participate regularly in church services
- Observe dress and grooming standards
- Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code
Sunday Paul Adah hails from Ibadan, Nigeria. He is pursuing a degree in sociology at Brigham Young University – Idaho as a member of the class of 2019.