I have been in America studying for almost three years now as an international student, and it is a delight to say that I have grown to become a confident and social person, which is something no one, even myself, thought would happen.
I remember how socially awkward I was when I first got here as a freshman. I always wanted to participate in my classes to get those extra points, but it was just so hard for me to get my words out. My teacher made us do an ice breaker, and I was so nervous because I know people find it hard to understand me with my accent.
When it finally got to my turn to introduce myself, I stood up and talked as clearly as I could. I finished, thinking that everyone understood me, but they were all just staring at me with blank expressions. I assume my teacher was just trying to clear the air, as she asked me what my name meant. She continued to ask questions about my home in Nigeria.
She wasn't being rude, but she put me in a spotlight that I didn't want to be in, which is where my social awkwardness began. In fact, it got so bad that I began avoiding anywhere that would require me to talk to people, even if it meant not eating out.
Finally, one day, I gave in and ate at a Subway close to my apartment. I ordered my own food, and of course, I had the same issue of the lady not being able to understand what I was asking to get on my sandwich.
Things get better though...much better.
After about one semester of studying here, I was able to get used to the way Americans talked and pronounced words. I don't feel embarrassed about my accent anymore, mostly because I realized I'm not the only international student here that has this issue.
I'm able to communicate with my American friends really well, but I do still have my days where I slip back into my thick African accent.