My name is Sonia Ngaleu, and l am from Cameroon. My country is located on the west side of the African continent. I am from a very extended family and the second of five children. I came to the United States when l was 20, and l have been here for 4 years. I am in my senior year of college undergraduate and proud to be.
As a college student, one thing that struck me when l traveled to the United States was the multitude of opportunities offered to college students to finance their education. As we all know, getting a higher education in the United States can be very expensive. However, college students in America benefit from financial aid, scholarships, loans, and even job opportunities that aid them financing their education partially or completely without the financial support of their parents. College students in Cameroon are not that fortunate. They have to depend on their parents on more than one level, but money is the main issue. In Cameroon it is very difficult for college students to find jobs before they have completed their education, thus most college students live with their parents until they are financially stable and capable of taking care of themselves. Young people coming from very poor families do not even get the chance to go to school because the few scholarships and loans existing are offered only to people of a certain social class.
I had a life similar to the one described above until my parents decided to send me to the United States. Attending a college in this country completely changed me as a person. I used to be shy and very introverted, but when l moved to Wheeling, l realized that l have to start fighting for myself. I knew I would not get my parents’ constant assistance as l used to. I had never had a job before, but l managed to find two on campus. Even though my incomes were not enough to pay for my school fees, l was at least able to pay for my own groceries and other things that l would normally go to my parents to obtain. After a year or two, l started occupying leadership positions on campus. I was a resident assistant for a year and president of the International Student Club for another. I found strengths in me that l did not know were there.
People usually ask me why l choose to attend Wheeling Jesuit University, and l always answer that “it was my only option.” As a matter of fact, coming to Wheeling was my only option because l was not enrolled in any other university. It was very challenging at first because of the difference of culture. I am coming from a culture in which people are very united and love to share. On the contrary, people are very individualistic in the United States. I have experienced situations in which l did not know how to react just because l was not familiar with the culture. After a while l got adjusted, and sometimes l laugh at myself because l feel like l act like Americans now. On the other hand, l also met people who made me feel like l was home, and with whom l shared unforgettable moments. In their company, l found the best of both worlds. They understood that l may act a certain way because l was coming from another culture and l have accepted and done the same with them.
Even though attending Wheeling Jesuit University was challenging at first and still is today, this university and everything else l went through made me the strong and independent woman l am . The proof is that l wrote this article. Who would ever believe that the English institute at Wheeling Jesuit could made me such a good writer? Everything in life is a blessing and nothing comes easily.