Assimilating to the culture

By IGOR TOMESKI

Staff Writer

As much as being an international student at Piedmont College is a privilege and an honor, I must acknowledge the fact that some huge transformational changes for my life occurred in the past month.

As a citizen of Republic of Macedonia, located in South-Eastern Europe, this is my first time coming to the United States. 

As ready as I felt for the upcoming semester, I arrived in the States only a day before move-in day at Piedmont. Everything I perceived around me was foreign, unfamiliar and sometimes confusing.

I faced the challenging tasks of meeting new people and getting acquainted to the campus and the environment of Piedmont College. 

This experience has required a lot of absorbing, processing and learning of the U.S. culture and mentality. Social and peer relations in the States slightly differ from what we do back home. 

The cultural shock I came across was not an easy one. Plus, I had a very short period of time to overcome it before beginning my first semester of college.

Hearing words and phrases that I have never heard before in my life, having no clue what a Chick-Fil-A is and overcoming the difficulty of following a student speaking too fast or a professor with a country accent were only a few of the challenges I faced during my first week at Piedmont College. 

The individualism and the personal space, a quality of the U.S. society, as much as it sounds understandable on paper, is no way to be known unless you experience it. 

While Macedonians tend to be more sociable, we are also more oppressive and conservative. 

It is a matter of opinion whether U.S. individualism is a beneficial or a destructive concept, probably containing a little bit of truth in both, as every social behavior as its ups and downs. 

The moments when everyone gave me a personal space to adjust made it easy for me to mistake that people didn’t want to socialize, which became one of the hardest cultural differences I was to decipher, still thinking from a European stand-point.

It only took two weeks for me to realize that not everyone is running away from me rather than giving me all the space and privacy I need, which is what I like so much and what I am actually impressed with at this very moment.

On the other hand, the amount of support, enthusiasm and motivation that classmates, dorm mates, professors, staff and residential life representatives showed to welcome me and help me adapt was surprisingly beneficial and encouraging.

I am amazed by how people treat and respect me that is motivation for me to try and catch up on the hard-work U.S. students have been doing as a part of Piedmont’s society. Making a lot of friends is one of the positive insights of college life, which I enjoy while receiving a quality liberal arts education.

Not forgetting the fact that tons of information had to be absorbed for a short period of time, I believe I have settled in and embraced the U.S. as my new home pretty well with the generous assistance of everyone around me. 

My participation in numerous cultural activities and my enduring passion for attending them is proof for me that the U.S. is the real land of opportunity that I got to read about as a young European, dreaming to one day pursue the American Dream.