Although the United States is a popular destination for exchange students around the world, not all exchange students choose to study in Oklahoma. Adrian Guarrera (University of Nice, France) and Rich Dawson (University of Sheffield, England) about their first time experience in the Sooner State.
Dawson: My first time in Oklahoma was crazy, y’all.
Guarrera: My first time in Oklahoma was definitely unforgettable.
Dawson: We’ve been here since August of last year on an exchange year and we’re going to be leaving in like 3 weeks.
Guarrera: Personally, when I came here I didn’t know anybody.
Dawson: I knew one person before I came here. That was a girl from my university as well and that was it.
Guarrera: We just met the first day, when we were moving in, and I was in the apartment, one of the first ones, and this boy came in and was like ‘hey, I’m your roommate! I’m British’ and I say ‘Okay, I’m your roommate, I’m French!’ It went pretty easy and we’re very good friends now.
Dawson: Before I came here, I had the real kind of cowboy impression and I was actually kind of scared of coming here, you know? It’s very, very different back home, but then actually coming here it’s completely different, you know, people are not all kind of cowboys, kind of liberal, especially like us at OU, and I really like it. It’s great.
Guarrera: Yeah, before I came, I thought we were going to see like a lot of rednecks everywhere and just cowboy things, but actually it was like completely different what we thought before and just completely amazing here, the University and stuff.
Dawson: I think Oklahomans definitely have an accent, but the more profound accent is a Texan accent for me. Like the people from Dallas and stuff, it’s very, very strong and I love it. It’s good.
Guarrera: The only weird thing in the language is they all say “y’all”. I didn’t know this word before so in the beginning, people warned me “Don’t worry, it’s normal”. I was like “okay”.
Dawson: Oh yeah, and the weather here is great! It’s crazy. It’s so different than back home. Back home, it’s just kind of constant, average, boring weather and then like here, one day it’s you know, 90 degrees and the next day it’s freezing and then you have a tornado, like it’s great.
You don’t really want to visit England if you’re just going to come for the weather. It’s terrible! It rains a lot, it’s cloudy, and it’s very grey skies.
Guarrera: Where I come from is really windy, but we don’t have tornadoes so it’s like, we’re not scared about the wind. Here it like becomes windy and you’re like wow, maybe I should hide somewhere like maybe it’s going to get worse, you never know, you have these tornadoes, earthquakes.
When we have a storm back home, we just enjoy it and we smile, we stay inside, and here like when we have a storm, we’re like “Oh, am I going to die today or what?”
Dawson: I think the thing that I’m going to take back are all the great friends that I’ve made, you know, all these connections, people from, not only from across Europe and South America and all the other exchange places, but American people as well. I made some great friends here and I hope to see everybody like in the future.
Guarrera: It’s definitely a lot, a lot of new friends and it’s really a new part of you, about the world in general. People are really, really nice around here.
Dawson: People in England, they’re very kind of, they’re not cold, but they’re kind of sarcastic and here people are very open and warm and I think that’s one of the biggest differences for me personally.
Guarrera: I don’t know if it’s because of the university, or just Oklahoma, but I think it’s just in general in Oklahoma, people are way nicer. I’ve been in other parts of the USA, it’s something I really figured out. Something is really different here. In general and when they treat us, I mean, they can be nice for like no reason and they can help you for no reason just like because they want to.
Dawson: People are very interested to meet other people from across the world here and everybody’s so, have a lot of hospitality. We feel kind of overwhelmed sometimes of how nice people are.
Guarrera: I think like definitely if you try to do a maximum of things around, it’s going to be just an amazing year, like the most amazing experience of my life.
Guarrera: We’re actually going to visit each other more than like, one time this summer at least and maybe several times this summer and then like yeah, yeah for sure several times.
Dawson: And I think that’s the same for a lot of exchange students here. There are some real, real strong friendships that have been made, so I think we speak for everyone when we say we’re going to see each other a lot more.