From left to right: Drew Kerner, Vivi de Paula Colletta, and Igeta Tamami.

Photo by Drew Kerner

College has been an unforgettable experience for me as a freshman. One unforgettable thing for me is the variety of cultures on campus. I was lucky to befriend and interview two international students named Viviane de Paula Colletta (Vivi for short) and Igeta Tamami. Vivi is from Brazil and is outgoing. Overall if she’s around, the fun follows. Tamami is from Japan and is humorous. Hanging out with her is amazing since she’ll find something weird and make it memorable.

The first question I asked them was, “Why University of Wisconsin-Superior (UWS)?” For Tamami it’s longer-lasting snow and fulfilling her dream of being in the States. Vivi is excited to be in the States and about the changing leaves, when I described them to her she had zero clue what I was talking about. They both explained how they arrived. Vivi said it was pretty hard to leave her friends and family behind. Luckily, they compiled a book for her to remember them which made her cry in joy. Tamami had a different experience. She was so excited she, “Didn’t have time to cry.” Both landed in Duluth and were picked up by a UWS representative to be driven to campus, where they met and became roommates.

Both had doubts about America, mainly the food. Vivi is a picky eater and was concerned if she could eat the eggs and meat she likes, which isn’t a problem here in Wisconsin. Tamami was concerned about getting vegetables and eating healthy. They haven’t had an issue with food, they downed their Perkins food faster than I could. Vivi brought up how surprised she was about the number of international students here; which, she admitted made her feel more comfortable knowing she wasn’t the only one new to the States.

The adjustment of constantly using English is the hardest. Tamami has had challenges keeping up with the communication and workload required in her Introduction to Academic Writing class. I asked them about the most challenging part about being far from home. I got polar opposite responses. Vivi said she misses her friends and family, especially her brother. Tamami said, “nothing.” She clarified after laughing that it’s because she has dreamt of being here.

In the middle of this interview, they humored me with cultural differences. Vivi asked, “Where are the crop tops?” I found this interesting as Midwesterners aren’t known for excessive use of crop tops. Tamami commented how everyone dresses and speaks comfortably instead of formally. In Japan, it’s a big thing to be formal to your elders and each other. Tamami has sometimes been exhausted by Americans’ greater social openness.

I asked about their plans for the future in America. Vivi said they’ll buy a car together and drive to California. Tamami wants to travel too, but wants to be involved on campus more. Tamami is majoring in marketing, while Vivi is double majoring in criminal justice and communicating arts. Both are found around campus pretty much everywhere. I think that I’ve already bumped into them in every building besides Old Main. If you see them around campus, don’t be afraid to say hello as they are both very friendly.