Hi everyone! My name is Marion Lory and I just graduated from a journalism school in Paris (yes I am French and yes I love cheese, bread and wine). Five years ago I did my sophomore year in the United States and it was amazing. How amazing? Well, you just have to read below to know…
Where the hell am I? » That would probably summarize how I felt the first time I arrived in Stillwater, Oklahoma. I was only 19 and I just started an exchange program at Oklahoma State University. I come from a small French town and I was excited to be able to live my dream and study for a year in the United States. Let’s be honest though, Stillwater is a small city and students represent half of the population. And Oklahoma? Well, this is a rural state, with a lot of nothing ahead of you. I was torn apart between excitement and disappointment. But that mixed feeling only lasted a day.
As the saying goes “Tomorrow is a new day”. Once I stepped on the campus ground the next day I felt like any freshmen: college is a whole new world and it is pretty scary! Big classroom buildings, an incredible sports center, a fancy library, a majestic student union and new people. In my case, I obviously did not know anybody. I met the other international students and we were soon paired with an American “cousin”. My cousin’s name was Sam and his role was to help me fit in the American culture. He invited me to house parties, he brought me to football games and taught me how college worked (including learning the school slogans and the songs’ choreographies and lyrics during the games). Everything to fit in as a Cowboy girl (Pistol Pete, OSU’s mascot, is a cowboy).
During the first semester though, I was still trying to find a good rhythm between classes, schoolwork and social life. I attended campus events and I had a 4.0 GPA but I realized that college, especially when you are an exchange student, is not all about classes. It is about experiencing.
The second semester was great, even better than the first one because I eased off on the pressure. I traveled to California, Colorado, Texas, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon and saw things I might never see again. I enjoyed every minute I had in the United States because it was a one-time chance. And five years later, I still remember exactly how I felt during this year.
I won’t tell you not to study because classes are important, they give you knowledge that you will use in the future but you cannot let them define the way you live. College is a new world with fantastic opportunities. You still have your life ahead of you and the college years are probably the best, so be sure to remember them. Enroll in clubs, go out, practice a sport, experience new things. A new chapter of your life just began. Enjoy it!