Sunday, July 20, 2014

OMG! I have been proven wrong…USA is not what I saw on TV.

By Brenda Bukowa, Zambia (SUSI scholar 2014)

Before 19th June 2014, I dreaded the thought of living or even studying in the USA. I had the image of USA that depicted a country that doesn’t sleep, I country full of crime and a country that has celebrities at every corner and paparazzi’s chasing after them.

I am sure you are thinking to yourselves, “what is wrong with this image of USA, why wouldn’t one want to live in such a country?” well I am goner say, I am quite strange and I love to just be in a place that is quite and where people mind their business. 

My ideal "place of paradise" is one where birds sing and preferably fly backwards, where water flows and produce a melody and spring fresh smell that can take any baby to sleep, where people are friendly and where the glass and trees are green and produce a fragrance that would substitute for perfume on any given day.  This place in my description I prefer to call “heaven”

Athens in the day, my "little slice of Heaven"
Before, flying to USA and participating in a 6 week long exchange at Ohio University, I knew I was going to live in some high-rise building and busy streets but, hell No! I was proved wrong. Remember, my description of paradise above? I have been shown a slice of paradise in USA. Athens they call it, is a beautiful quiet town situated along the Hocking River in the Southeastern part of Ohio State.  I have seen a couple of police cars but haven’t heard any sirens…amazing right? Especially that the image of US is one of police and sirens…well at least to me.

Athens Sunshine breaks through in the early hours of the day
This will blow your mind; Athens pet population is composed of a dozen squirrels every few meters along the relatively busy driveways and paths. Are you asking what I am talking about? Yes... I am talking about those little characters in the movie “Alvin and the chipmunks”, now this time in their live form. It is amazing how the little creatures move about freely and happily. By now I am sure you are getting hold of what I mean by Athens being a "little slice of heaven".

Get over the excitement about squirrels, and imagine the fact that Athens doesn’t only boast of Squirrels but a variety of birds and animals that would leave any persons mouth open in disbelief.  

Forget Athens, for a little while and come with me to Cleveland (located in northeastern Ohio on the Southern shore of lake Erie approximately 60 miles (97 km) west of the Pennsylvania border), and let’s meet the Amish people. I know you have come across a number of writings, documentary films and drawings on these people. Take a moment however, and imagine life without TV, Cell phones (imagine no IPhones) and computers. Take another thought and imagine how your life would be without these gadgets, unbearable right?...mine too, but this is the life that these people live 24/7, 365 days a year. I will be honest, I have never come across a land as beautiful as the Amish country, this is another slice of heaven that I am sure was left behind on earth for Americans to enjoy.
An Amish pair Lester and Mary Beachy

Forget about heaven for a moment and lets talk about the Amish lifestyle. In addition to not having the modern telecommunications gadgets, these people follow strict Christian beliefs, and only reach up to a certain level in their formal education (I know you are asking “like seriously?”) it is interesting to note that their lives are centered on using their hands to make a living and for them this is enough.

These people also do not believe in “sex before marriage” and their women once married have to be full time housewives and this is not negotiable.

I have had a great time in the USA and every night before sleeping I smile and think of how wrong I was to misjudge this beautiful country in the manner I did.

However, they say to every beautiful thing there are one or two things that could go wrong. My journey in America is no exception, I am sad to note that I am soon going to need new clothes and this is because I am loving the food a bit too much that my jeans and dresses and a lot more other garments are getting a bit too small for my size (now talk of spending a few hundred dollars for a new wardrobe, not a good thing right?)

My thai lunch, this and a lot more food are a favourite of mine

Brenda Bukowa (Lecturer and Media Consultant). University of Zambia, Department of Mass Communication. Email;,

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