Life of an F1 Student
by Olalekan Okunleye
It is not an easy task being an F1 student. I will tell you my experience in different categories as an F1 student in the United States of America. I met people from diverse cultures for the first time and communication was a bit difficult due to my accent, and theirs too. It was not an easy task understanding people and vice versa, and communication gave me a lot of concern initially. I felt embarrassed. So, I resolved to listen harder, speak slowly and more audibly, while focusing more on my pronunciation. However, I don’t regret being an F1 student, especially as it has changed my perception of life in many ways.
I will be sharing some tips needed as a new F1 student to a country like the United State of America from my own personal experience. I strongly believe someone will find them useful and will be able to learn from my mistakes and not to repeat them.
Firstly, transportation is a key factor in the United States, since there is need to move from point A to point B, especially as a student. I can remember my first day going to school from home/ I needed to take to bus to school. It was winter season and it was freezing cold to the extent that I had to make use of winter jacket and gloves just to be able to go around in the very cold temperature of about 35°F (1.6°C). Fortunately, I was able to find my way to school making use of Google map which thankfully is embedded with the bus schedules and routes. It took me 50 minutes to get to school. Google map will show you the direction and what bus to board, where and when, also the exact place and time of arrival.
Unfortunately, on my way back home from school after the whole day of lectures, I made a mistake. Google map showed me a route boarding Bus 402. I, however, boarded Bus 401 which arrived earlier hoping to save some time, thinking the bus will be taking the same route. But the Bus 401 took me to another route entirely different from home. It was a very bad day for me in the United States of America which made me burst into tears knowing that I have missed my way home by 8:30 pm. Considering the fact that I am not very familiar with where I ended up, I was too ashamed to ask for help on the bus. I tried to find my way back home from 8:30 pm to 9:15 pm in a cold weather of 26° Fahrenheit (-3°C), but it turned out there were no more buses coming that way at that hour. Fortunately, I met a good Samaritan who assisted me in figuring out my way home by ordering Uber taxi for me using the Uber App on his phone. Thus, I will advise anyone new in the country not to rely on one mode of public transportation. You also need all the mobile Taxi Apps such as Uber, Lyft etc.
The weather is also very important to take note of in the United States. It is advisable to always look up the weather forecast online before stepping out. It helps plan your day better and also gives you a hint of what best to wear and what things to go out with. There are four seasons in the United State of America which are: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Spring usually starts in April when the weather warms up. Spring's mild temperature last for about two months. What you really need to be aware of in Spring, is the pollen that causes allergy issues. Summer starts as early as June and will last through September. The temperatures in Summer go up to 100°F (38°C). It can also become very humid. Fall means cooler temperatures in late September and it is pretty mild. Winter comes in November and temperatures can go very low. I arrived in the country during the winter and it was cold to the extent that I started shivering while wearing a lighter jacket. Apparently, a light jacket is not appropriate for that time of the year, and I got to understand the difference between heavy and light winter jackets. A very good winter jacket and gloves will come in handy.
I’m quite sure food is important to everyone as it is to me. I want you to understand that it is important checking the expiration date of every food you want to buy (I mean preserved food like eggs, milk, chicken etc.). There is organic and inorganic food. It is preferable you go organic because these are produced by the standards of organic farming and they are grown with natural fertilizer, while inorganic is grown with synthetic and chemical fertilizer which can easily destroy human health on a long run. I shop from Americana store and Hmart for my organic groceries. There are also a lot of stores that cater to people of diverse culture. For example, there is African store to meet the needs of African people, as there are many other stores for other nationalities. A quick look up online would yield good results as to locations of these stores and what they sell.
Finally, speaking of accommodation, I strongly advise that you check with the school to what housing arrangements exist before leaving your country, simply because accommodation is very important. You don't want to be in a situation where you arrive in the country without having a place to go. Hotels can be quite pricey, and may not be a sustainable option for a student. Planning ahead of time is important. You can also check Craiglist.com, Cityroommer.com for housing. Please apply wisdom to avoid scams.