North Texas Daily

A new country, a temporary home

A new country, a temporary home

November 12
01:34 2015

Anjulie Van Sickle | Staff Writer

@anjuliegrace

Sydney Wilburn | Contributing Writer

@wilburn_sydney

When Giselle Greenidge stepped off the plane in Lawton, Oklahoma, and looked around, all she saw was brown farmland. This scene was not what she was expecting. Where were the skyscrapers? The buildings? The New York vibe?

She thought it must have been a mistake.

After realizing she was in the right place and this was where Cameron University—her school for the next two years—was located, she accepted her fate and walked into her new country.

Culture shock

Greenidge has dedicated her life to academia.

Originally from Grenada—a small country made up of a group of islands in the Caribbean—Greenidge moved to the United States in 2009 to pursue her undergraduate degree in fashion merchandising at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma.

Lawton is a relatively small town with a population of 96,867. Everyone knows everyone, and the grocery store is within walking distance from home. Greenidge was surprised when she saw the vast landscape of a farm town.

“When I landed in Oklahoma, I had no idea what I was doing there,” Greenidge said. “I thought it was just us passing through somewhere. Everything was just so brown and I was just looking for the New York skyscrapers.”

Like many students who study abroad, Greenidge experienced culture shock.

“In Oklahoma, there was some difficulty to fit in with the culture,” she said. “It was just so different. I guess it was my fault because I didn’t really do my research before moving to Oklahoma, so I thought it was like New York.”

Greenidge is here on an F-1 student visa. There isn’t a U.S. Embassy in Grenada, so students wanting to study in the U.S. have to travel up to the nearby country of Barbados—an independent island nation in the Caribbean.

DSC_0021

Giselle Greenidge smiles in front of Marquis Hall, the building that houses the International department. Sydney Wilburn | Contributing Writer

She said it wasn’t a long process, and she was able to gain access to the visa without any problems.

A Passion for Learning

Since starting at UNT back in the spring, Greenidge has been able to easily adapt to the large campus.

“I’ve made so many friends here that I see people all the time,” Greenidge said. “I see my classmates every day. I spend most of my time on campus. I’m here usually here from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m., sometimes 11. I don’t feel alone.”

Rosa Jimenez, a graduate student studying hospitality management, met Greenidge about a year and a half ago. They became friends the first semester they met.

“Giselle is very quiet and reserved,” Jimenez said. “I became friends with her when I needed her help. She was always prepared—I was surprised that she had already printed all the material on the first day [of class].”

Greenidge doesn’t have a car and Jimenez lives in Dallas, so they don’t get to spend a lot of time together off campus. Jimenez said Greenidge was also willing to help in whatever way she can. They spend many afternoons studying together over lunch.

Judging by Greenidge’s associate’s degree, two master’s degrees and the Ph.D. she’s currently working on, she is passionate about learning—especially considering she’s only 26 years old.

Greenidge now works in the UNT Sociology Department as a teaching assistant for Dr. Helen Potts, who teaches a sociology of religion class.

“She’s a hard worker, always getting work done as soon as I give it to her,” Potts said. “I’m looking forward to the lecture she’s going to give in class in a few weeks.”

Before coming to the US, Greenidge earned her associate degree in foreign languages in Grenada.

She attended Cameron University from 2009 until 2013, earning her undergraduate degree in fashion merchandising and a graduate degree in behavioral analysis.

She began her Ph.D. course work in sociology at UNT in the spring of 2015 and has adapted to the large campus comfortably.

2010.10.16 Giselle by Ruben Sotelo (3)

Giselle Greenidge is wearing her country’s colors, red, green and yellow, in a traditional skirt and headdress. Courtesy | Giselle Greenidge

“I love learning and I have so many different interests,” she said. “I’ve always had a passion for learning different languages, but I don’t really see them as very different because they’re all very interconnected.”

Missing Home

Greenidge talks with her family for at least an hour every day. Her mom, dad, two sisters and her brother take turns passing the phone around. Greenidge makes sure to always talk with her mom first, because she’s the first to go to bed. They’re a tight-knit bunch.

After talking to her parents about school and work, she said her mother always ends up bringing food into the conversation.

“What have you eaten today? Are you eating healthy?” she asks her daughter before going to bed.

Greenidge’s family lives in a white and grey house with a pink interior. It’s built on a hill overlooking the beach. The land around the home is filled with almost every kind of fruit tree: mango, grapefruit, oranges and plum trees. Greenidge’s mother will plant anything that goes into the ground.

Typically, she goes home about once a year, but makes sure to keep up with what’s happening in Grenada.

“I don’t want to get too disconnected, because I think if I were not to go back that often, after a while everything would seem foreign,” Greenidge said. “And when I do go back, it would be all new and I would feel like a tourist. I don’t want to feel like an outsider.”

Featured Image: Giselle Greenidge moved to the United States from Granda in 2009 to pursue her undergraduate degree in fashion merchandising at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. Courtesy | Giselle Greenidge

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