You may not know it just by looking at him, but upon hearing him speak you will realize that Leonn Summers is far from home; over 4,000 miles away actually. He and his accent are originally from Chichester, a town on the south coast of England. He now lives in the small nearby seaside town of Bognor Regis, much smaller than Normal, with his “mum” Michelle and younger brother Louis. Leonn is studying abroad here at ISU for the entire 2013-2014 school year. Although he has only been a Redbird for a few weeks, he has jumped right in and is making a name for himself.
Adjusting to the American college lifestyle has been a challenge Leonn is gladly accepting, and successfully overcoming. School in England is much different than here, where students are expected to know what they want to study by age 16. Here, he is taking advantage of the freedom we have in choosing classes. He has enrolled in a well-rounded mix of Communication, Politics, and Theatre courses, which fit nicely in his American and Film Studies background from schooling back home. One difference that is literally and figuratively taking more time to adjust to: the amount of hours spent in class a week. Instead of credit hours, Leonn is used to modules. Through this system, he is set with six modules a year that are about two hours a week. Last year he had class for four hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. For those of you who lost track, that’s 12 hours of class a week and a four-day weekend every week!
Four weeks in and Leonn has already become involved on-campus. He has joined the theatre department’s upcoming musical Spring Awakening, which opens in just a few weeks. As an active member of theatre back home, he has loved meeting new people with similar interests and experiencing the differences in American theatre. An entirely new experience he is enjoying is working as a photographer for TV-10. One of the “biggest” surprises for Leonn since being at ISU, coincidentally, is the size of everything! Compared to what he is used to, the campus, the food portions, and the amount of students are much larger. In this case, it seems that size does matter, and ISU should be proud.
When meeting a foreign exchange student, especially one with an accent, it’s hard to resist a conversation teaching and learning terminology from each one’s own country. I admit I am guilty of this. Leonn has begun his new vocabulary of American words and phrases. Little things like “elevator” instead of “lift” and “trash” instead of “rubbish” he is beginning to grasp. A big difference for him is “college” instead of the common English term “uni” referring to university. And while he is familiar with the act of “pre-gaming,” back home he uses the term “pre-drinking,” which seems to be a more suitable term. A few more new terms you can try out this week: “fit” is used to describe someone attractive and “knackered” which means tired.
When asked to give some advice to students on how to make the most of their time, Leonn said, “Do everything! Try and get involved with as many activities as your schedule allows. I have no regrets doing so much here as it’s given me great opportunities. Don’t be shy or scared. You Americans are much more open than I expected!”
So, if you see this foreign fellow wandering the quad, don’t be afraid to say hello. Believe me, you’ll want to hear it from him on how he loves being here. Cheers, Leonn Summers, ISU Strange Bird.