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International student shares experience of coming to a new country

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My name is Simone, and I’m one of the 113 international students currently on campus. I’m from Germany, and I’m a real “Muenchnerkindl”. Everybody who is born and grown up in Munich is characterized as a “Muenchnerkindl”.

And now I’m here in Pueblo, Colorado. I took the plunge, and left my family and friends behind for nine months.

Simone Peinkofer, Greman exchange student, mass communications
Simone Peinkofer, Greman exchange student, mass communications

During the first days, I discovered the differences between Germany and America. The first thing I noticed was that you can find a fast food restaurant on nearly every corner. Yes, of course, we have fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Pizza Hut in Germany too, but not in the same dimension.

The second lesson for me to learn was that in the U.S. everything is bigger, and I really mean everything: bigger signs, bigger shopping malls and bigger cars.

Driving for the first time in the U.S. was a real adventure, because I was not used to such a huge car, but I made it safely to the CSU-Pueblo campus.

The campus, with its grey buildings, looks very different from mine in Germany. Here you can find all departments in one place and you can easily walk from one building to another. In Munich, the different departments are spread through the whole city and it can take you hours to go from one to another.

Luckily, in Munich, there isn’t much need for commuting; students come to the university with their core courses, such as math and language arts, completed as part of their university entrance diploma, which is also known as an Abitur.

 

To study in Munich is more anonymous than studying at CSU-Pueblo, because you only meet the students from your department in Munich, while at CSU-Pueblo there is opportunity to interact with students studying many different majors.

I love coffee. I’m made up of 90 percent coffee and 10 percent water; it is only a good day if it starts with a coffee. The first week of school was very hard for me because I did not know there is a coffee shop on the campus.

Now I stop there every day for a cup of hot coffee, and it is very impressive that the barista already knows which coffee I prefer.

But I’m not only here to drink coffee, I also take classes. I was very excited when school started because of the new school, new teachers and new fellow students.

During the first weeks I have met many new people and I really try hard to remember all their names, but sometimes I have to give up when I can’t remember them.

I think Americans are more frank with strangers that Germans are. I can remember when we had exchange students from Spain in our classes in Germany; very few people had the heart to talk to them, though it could have been because they only spoke Spanish.

In Germany it is very common for people, especially students and younger people, to speak several languages; normally English and French, and only few can speak Italian or Spanish. In my country it is a big advantage to speak several languages when you apply for a job, and of course it is easier to communicate with foreigners.

When I came here seven weeks ago, I had not listened to, spoken or written English for nearly five years, and at the beginning it was a little bit difficult to express myself, because I often did not know the right words in English.

Now I can follow the teachers in the class very well, and I also can listen and take notes at the same time. The speaking and writing is also getting better. Sometimes I even do not know the German word but the English one, especially when I call my family or friends in Germany.

I miss my family and friends in Germany, but I really do not have time to worry about it. It was my own decision to go abroad for such a long time, and so I have to stand by it. And I’m a tough girl. I think I can handle it. Pueblo Colorado, here I am!