Life as a Samoan College Student in the U.S.
Editor’s Note: The following interview is a piece on Jane Taimalie. She is a sophomore here at NCU with a major in Business Administration and a minor in accounting. Jane is a light and lovely presence on campus, and loves to share stories about her life and where she came from.
How was your transition from the American Samoa to here? Did you find the pace of life to be difficult to settle into, or is it similar?
I would say it was difficult at first due to unfamiliar faces and a whole different environment and by the same token being the only Samoan in the school was not helping at all. I was homesick for 3 weeks and tried my best to live for another day. Few weeks later, I started to adapt myself to the students and the school, and honestly, it built a whole new perspective of being away from family, so with the 5 months being here made NCU my first family in America. And not only with the students but also with the faculties and staff of the school.
I did find it hard to settle in the new life I was having but what actually kept me from sprinting to the airport and hop on the plane to fly back home was Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.” This verse made everything in my first year of college great and beautiful.
Are there any traditions from home that you find yourself missing? Are there any traditions here that seem odd to you?
Yes, there is a list, but I could one of them is every 6-7pm, each family would have a prayer meeting as a respect of giving thanks to God for another day in their lives and giving him the praise that he deserves; that, I miss home for because not only it brings family together but also make amends with each other if theirs tension involve. Not in particularly, I love how everyone here treats you the same respect in return and the community her has your back no matter where you stand in times of trouble.
What is it like to have English as your second language? Do you find yourself falling back into speaking your first language a lot? Do you prefer one over the other? If yes, why?
Having English as my second language is quite overwhelm because sometimes when I’m in a conversation with someone, its challenging to find the right word when speaking, it’s also difficult when you’re trying to write a paper, it’s when my brain is making soup and its adding Samoan words in the ingredients because theirs words in Samoan that can make me present my argument and it’s difficult to translate it in English especially when I don’t know the word for it. Yes, I sometimes find myself speaking my language a lot because it kept me from seeing things not only from one point of view but two views of an argument. Honestly, I prefer both because having a second language gives me a second vision of life and that’s what I need in my life.
Have you learned anything important in the time you’ve been here or from the time you’ve been away from there?
Yes, I have learned a lot actually, things that I didn’t took to reconsideration has been playing roles in my life today. I also learn that you’re not alone where ever your away from family, because their prayers and love has been guarding you the moment you walk out the door back home. And also, we got a cool God that loves us so so much and unconditionally that he won’t even allow a thought of hurting you cross anyone’s mind.
Are there any major differences you have noticed between the two places, languages, or people?
I have notice the differences in time zone and weather relating. I notice how people just go on with their business and not being bother just as other students are, others mostly got out of their comfort zone and became the better person they are today. Changing your transition not only changes your place of living and perspective of life but it also changes your perspective for yourself; it changes you in ways you don’t recognize and changes your way of talking and thinking. With changes happening, it all starts with you; it’s your decision to choose either. Change can be good, but also it has its con in certain situation.