Some of my early struggles with coming to America, and more specifically Iowa was things like the food, weather, and missing home. I have never seen snow before, so I chose the wrong state if I never wanted to do that! I remember one of the first time I was walking in the Winter and I completely ate it on the ice. A big alteration in my lifestyle was the food, since I was used to a traditional Indian dish with rice and some sort of spice and meat. Indian food is nothing like the fast food in America, and I am still adjusting. The phrase used often in America is “the freshman 15”, and for some that may have been true. I was a picky eater early on and that made “the freshman 15” for me not a possibility, as I dropped a ton of weight. The classes were easily adjusted to. I was interested in Economics early on, and a lot of the early business courses are a bore, but they became necessary for later classes.

The biggest challenge for me did not stem from the classes, or the weather. In October 2011 my mother passed, I had just gotten to school and my whole world came crashing down. Not only for me but for my family as well. I rushed back home to Ghana to take care of anything I could for my father and brother. Having to leave school, help with my mother’s funeral, and then come back really drained me. Mentally, emotionally, and physically I was fried and nothing really inspired me to come back. It was the worst year of my life and I do not wish it upon my worst enemy. I felt like I needed to be back home with my father.

I do not know if I would have made it through that year of college without this core group of friends that I never thought I would have. Starting with my closest friend and roommate freshman year Kirk, is from small-town Iowa; Montezuma. You would think a small town kid would be a little quiet and shy, but Kirk was not. He was always there and willing to talk; everything we did and all those little distractions took me away from the tough year I was having. Kirk knew some friends on the football team, and I began really getting close with a lot of the guys involved in that. For me it was always soccer, 11990402_10153162661288157_7911983317206677156_nI knew nothing about football, and one thing I missed from home was watching soccer on Saturdays with my family. Kirk and the guys that lived across the hall that played football; Jack, Andy, and Chris all showed me a new tradition, football Sundays. It was great. We would all sit down and watch the TV, the guys would be screaming for their teams, while I just assimilated and chose my favorite. I became a Detroit Lions fan. I was not used to holidays, or celebrating the holidays in America, and going back home was not an easy option for a four-day fall break, or Thanksgiving break. My roommate took me to his house for fall break and it really made me feel a part of a family. It was a home away from home. His mom gave me a huge hug, she even tried to make a traditional Indian dish, which was awesome. It was just the little things they did that really made me feel like they cared. I grew really close to that core groups of guys.

Those three football players that I became friends with ended up becoming my roommates’ sophomore year, and it was all the little diversions that we took part in that really helped me stay on a good track in school with all that had happened. I remember the midnight movie nights we would all have, and some of the movies we would watch over and over again just because we all liked hanging out with each other. I did not miss a gam12047078_10207864548638349_2324739072102429580_ne for those guys playing even though I did not really understand it, and my roommates really introduced me to the whole football team. Getting involved in a lot of activities across campus really helped me attain many friendships, but ultimately it was the guys I surrounded myself with that changed a big part of my life, in a good way. They introduced me to their families, and really assimilated me within their families in a way. The parents knew what was going on,  and teachers knew what had happened. It was something on my record but I did not want it to be what people identified me for. Those distractions those guys gave me allowed me to get involved with schooling instead of pushing it away from what had happened.