This is the story of my first day.*
"But I am getting much better at cooking and now I think I am a Michelin chef."

Taiyuan, China

Salem, Massachusetts



Salem, Massachusetts

Everything is Huge

I will always remember August 17, 2014, because that was my first day in America. I remember I was in a flood of tears on that day because it was hard to say goodbye to my family. But I know it was a very important step to grow up. On the plane, when all of the lights turned off, I still cried because it was like a nightmare that I thought would come true. I asked myself “Why do you choose America? You even can’t speak whole sentences in English, and you choose to study abroad?” Yes, this is true. At first, my English was really bad, but I hope it will improve.

The 15 hours of flight time passed quickly. Then, I got off the airplane and waited for a shuttle to pick us up. The first of my impressions was “huge.” Everything is huge. Everyone is tall, the airport is huge, I saw many huge trucks like in the movie Transformers. I bought a coffee; I ordered a small one, but it was the same size as a large coffee in China. I was afraid and excited; from that day, my American challenges started. The biggest difference between China and the USA is food. I think every American person likes to eat fast food, such as pizza and cheese burgers. I rarely ate fast food at home in China. I was 15 pounds fatter after one month because I ate so much fast food.

I started to miss my mother, especially my mother’s cooking. I miss a lot of snacks and I miss the restaurants in China. I don’t like American food because I think it will make me fatter and fatter. So, I started to cook. I still remember the experience of my first time cooking. When I scrambled eggs, the fire alarm went off. The sound was very loud and I saw everyone run out. I didn’t know what to do. But I am getting much better at cooking and now I think I am a Michelin chef. Everyone likes my cooking. Thanks to America for teaching me become a cook and feed myself.

In my first year at Salem State, I just took ESL classes so that I could concentrate all my energies on studying English. I thought my speaking was very bad and I was afraid to speak in public, but I have improved a lot. I felt shy and embarrassed and my face got red when I said something in public. A big difference between China and the USA is asking some questions. In China, students think that teachers are always right and they rarely ask questions in class time even if they don’t really understand the teacher. But they do study hard after class. I was too shy to ask questions even when a professor said “Anyone have questions?” I’m afraid to ask a question when I don't really understand. I think I should change that.

I want to tell myself that I made the right decision to come to the USA. Studying languages is making mistakes again and again, but don’t be afraid of it; I will continue to challenge myself. Because I came here, I can really experience great things; I can be incredible.

* The contributor of this story has asked that their name be withheld.