November 14, 2011
(Photo by Laura J. Cole)
One month before her 18th birthday, sophomore Adrienne Barton (Class of 2014) moved with her family from their home in Jamaica to one in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Two months later, she moved again—this time a few hours north to begin her first year at Rollins. Now in her second year living in U.S., the biology and anthropology double major is making her mark at Rollins as an R-Journalist, treasurer of the Muslim Student Association and active participant in the Caribbean Student Association and the Rollins Anime Club Enthusiasts. She’s also trying to get used to the squirrels, the lack of Jamaican food and all the paperwork that comes with being an international student.
When did you move to the U.S.? What was that first year like for you transitioning to a new location and culture?
I came to this country and then two months later I came to Rollins and it's like I haven't stopped moving since. The packing was the worst part. It took us the better part of a year and I have an eternal hatred for rolled styrofoam and brown cellophane tape. From June until August, I lived with my mother, brother, grandmother and aunt in one very small house. With one bathroom and a kitchen connected to a living room and dining room, we all got very close, very quickly. There was enough laughter and cooking to balance out the miserable grumbling and bumping into each other. That August, I started Rollins.
When traveling abroad, everyone has those ah-ha moments when an aspect of the culture or some other detail came to life. Tell me about one of those moments for you and how it was different knowing that you wouldn’t be going back to Jamaica at the end of the week.
I've been to U.S. before because there's always been some family member that's lived here so nothing is really “new” to me, I suppose. There are some differences that stand out to me, excluding the obvious like currency, y'all drive on the wrong side of the road, etc. One example is how people are categorized, like the hyphenated-American; I don't intend to be rude, but I just don't understand the point of the prefix and the hyphen. I think the most amusing instances of cultural differences are when people make assumptions when they hear I'm Jamaican, and not just the typical, marijuana-related ones. Some are really creative, such as living on the beach/in tress, wearing dreadlocks and only drinking from coconuts; I even had one girl marvel at how good my English is. There's also the realization that I'm now considered a minority, which is an interesting concept that I'm not entirely sure I'll completely adjust to.
I think the closest thing that's come to an ah-ha moment for me is when people think I can't spell because I adhere to Oxford spelling. Writing the Honour Code just looks so much fancier with the 'u'.
What do you miss most about Jamaica?
The food. I would probably commit treason (despite not being a citizen, and therefore it doesn't matter) if I could get an honest to God beef patty. I'd also really like some real ackee, the canned version just doesn't taste the same. Also on the topic of food, back home my mother had fruit trees in our backyard and an ackee tree at her factory. There would always be fruit and ackee when it was in season and I just wish that we could have the same environment at our house now that we did back then. This might be hard to accomplish since there are so many squirrels that keep eating everything as they grow.
I think I'm lucky enough to be in Florida though. Since it's basically a Caribbean island that got attached to the United States, there's no shortage of random meetings of people eager to see a friendly face, eager for a connection or refresher of the warmth they haven't felt in a while or an accent you miss hearing.
What’s your favorite way to have fun on campus?
I like to consider myself a chronic napper and so spend disturbing amounts of time doing that. And when I'm not glaring at homework or writing blog posts, I spend a lot of time roaming around the fourth floor of Holt with friends or visiting people in other dorms who I don't get to see as often. Squirrel-dodging has also become somewhat of a hobby, as well as adventuring down Park Avenue or finding mysterious buildings on campus.
How would the atmosphere and culture of Rollins be different if it was located in Jamaica?
There would be so much more music. Music, food and festivals would just happen because there are so many different cultures and ethnic identities that make up being Jamaican that everyone celebrates some aspect of another person's culture.
What advice do you have for other international students who are considering Rollins or those who are still making the transition?
Calm. Down. Most major transitions such as moving to another country, or moving from high school/homeschool to college (which can seem like another country in itself), will take time. Personally, I get severely aggravated when things don't move as quickly or in the order that they should. Yelling at my laptop screen displaying an unfortunate email isn't solving anything, it just makes my neighbors think I'm crazy, and now we have another Jamaican stereotype to worry about. So slow down, it will take time, and the staff handling admissions for Rollins were sure to give me undivided amounts of their time and had deep wells of patience when both my mother and I (in our confused/irate accents) called about many a grievance before my enrollment. Agreed, patience is a virtue few possess, but with a deep breath, and a damned sturdy printer, these things have a way of working out for the better. The many Rollins' offices are eager and willing to have you come and have our community become yours too. So slow down for a bit and just take it step by step. Print your forms at a library if you can, and break their machines instead. It's way more entertaining, I promise you.
A celebration of international exchange worldwide, International Education Week runs November 14-18. The joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education promotes programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attracts future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences in the United States. Learn what Rollins is doing in celebration of this week.
At Rollins, international recruitment has doubled since last year (from 4 to 8 percent), and admission officers will have visited 30 countries by the end of the fall recruitment season. Once students arrive, the Office of International Student & Scholar Services provides the opportunity for international students to acclimate to the U.S. college campus, learn their rights and responsibilities related to immigration status, build community and gain experiences and skills necessary to achieve academic and career goals.
By Laura J. Cole
Office of Marketing & Communications
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.