Long Term English Program Helps Fulbright Student Learn About American Culture
Before I started my degree program as a Fulbright Foreign Student, I enrolled in the Applied English Center at the University of Kansas in order to improve my English reading, speaking, and writing skills. The classes were very thorough and allowed me to learn the grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structures I needed, and to practice them on a daily basis. Learning English is challenging, but I enjoyed learning a new language.
There are certain words that I know will be helpful in my professional career. During my GRE test prep, I learned many new English words but my favorite is “banal,” which means predictable, cliché, and boring. I use it regularly to describe something that I dislike especially in my field of art and architecture. Because of Fulbright, my English has drastically improved which will help me get a better job when I return home to Algeria. I can’t wait to teach Algerians what “banal” means, especially to my fellow architects. I’m sure they’ll love it.
The part I enjoyed most was the weekly discussion groups on campus where I interacted with Americans and asked questions about the United States. The program helped me make new friends from all over the world and gave me a gateway to learning about the world and American culture. It was the best opportunity to learn about American lifestyles and to be involved in different campus activities. For example, every Friday the university hosted International Coffee Hour, where a group of students gave a presentation about their country of origin, talked about their culture, and shared a dish of their traditional cuisine. I gave an informal presentation to my discussion group and was excited to share with others about my culture. We also had the chance to attend a Super Bowl watch party and big screen movie nights in the park with classmates.
During my Long-Term English program and now on my campus, I try to represent and honor my country and culture every time I meet someone because I know I represent my own country of Algeria. I also learned that the United States is a safe place, the opposite of what my preconceptions were before I came here. I found out that American people are friendly and they always want to learn about other cultures through programs like academic exchanges between the United States and other nations in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. The university also offered discounted tours and trips to some amazing places during the semester break, so it was the best time to explore the United States and to socialize and connect with American friends. I visited Chicago, and I had a great time exploring the city and my new community, which I’ve grown to love.
Overall, this program allowed me to be more confident in speaking and writing American English. I’ve learned to express my ideas with ease. The best advice I have for future Fulbrighters is to learn as much as they can in this program because it is the final opportunity to acquire the tools to boost your language capabilities and succeed in your academic program. These classes are a significant milestone in the journey; they have made me a better communicator and given me more confidence. Being a Fulbrighter means that I am an ambassador of my country in the United States. It is also a life changing experience at the personal and professional level, and I know learning English will help me go a long way professionally.
Khaled is from Algeria and is studying towards a Master’s in Architecture at the University of Nebraska — Lincoln.