Hi, I’m Dasha. I came from Belarus, a small country in Eastern Europe that most of you may not have heard of. When I knew for sure that I would spend the fall semester in America, I was very excited but also afraid because I didn’t know what to expect: another language, different culture, other mentality.
I watched a lot of American movies, but sometimes real life differs from ones on the screen. I have always admired America, but couldn’t even imagine that someday I would really get here.
I had great expectations, but at the same time was aware that anything could descend upon me from heaven to Earth. So what happened to my looking-fors? They haven’t materialized. In life, everything turned out to be much better than I could imagine in my wildest dreams!
People impressed me immediately. Everyone is so nice and friendly here that I didn’t have an adaptation period at all! I had come more than 5,000 miles. I had four flights, but I didn’t feel any lassitude because people surrounded me with their hospitality and openness. I replaced my lack of energy not by sleeping but by meeting new people who behaved as we had been best friends already. That was fantastic! And it still is.
In my country, people are self-contained. They’ll think you’re mad if you smile at them in the streets. They may follow each other on Instagram, “like” each other’s photos, but won’t even say hi if they accidently meet. Here I got acquainted with many people thanks to Instagram. The hashtag #dsu helped me to find a lot of new friends who just stopped me on my way to the cafeteria or somewhere else like “Hey! You’re that girl from Instagram, nice to meet you. Let’s take a selfie!” In my country people underestimate the role of Instagram in people’s lives, but here, in America, I feel like I think the same way people think. And that’s awesome!
I also expected Americans to be rude and selfish (kind of a prejudice) because in the movies Americans are often contrasted to the gentlemen British. Now, I can’t imagine how courteous the British should be if in America people always smile, wish you a good time, are willing to help and make you feel comfortable.
One more difference is that in my country people care too much about what the others think of them, especially in concerns with appearance, but if you feel comfortable sitting on the floor or on the grass, you are not permitted to do it in public places.
I like it here because you can express yourself. Over here, it is encouraged, while in my country, people with extraordinary appearances or ways of thinking are perceived as freaks. The United States is the country where you really feel freedom and freedom to be yourself.