My name is Sergio Saraiva and I was an exchange student on the University of Tulsa during 2013. I’d like to share with you my experience with the holidays in the US. First of all, you need to know that I’m from the Northeast of Brazil, which means that, prior to arriving in the US, I had no idea what was the meaning of a temperature bellow 62 Fahrenheit, and I only knew that much because of air conditioning, it IS hot here. Also, being a kid in Brazil during the late 90’s and early 2000’s basically meant being in contact with a lot of the American TV shows and cartoons. Because of that, as a kid, I’ve always waited for snow during Christmas, but it never came! Was the TV lying to me? Dad, why don’t we have snow? And what about Santa? How is he supposed to enter the house if we don’t have a chimney? I’m telling you, the struggle was real!
I’ve always waited for snow during Christmas, but it never came! Was the TV lying to me? Dad, why don’t we have snow?
Then, after a while, I got used to it. Those magical scenarios on TV were just too far from my reality, but still, every Christmas, I would see decorations with snowflakes and watch several movies telling me how “things were supposed to be.” Having that in mind, I believe y’all can imagine my expectations for that holiday season. On the night of December 23rd I was arriving in Aurora, a city near Chicago, travelling with a group of 3 other people and heading to a friend’s house. The temperature was below freezing, the snow had already created a white layer on top of everything, the front yards of the houses that we passed by had lights and reindeers, and I remember that at some point I started to shiver while trying to absorb the insanity of that moment.
On December 25th, it was hardly 7am when I woke up, put on my Mickey mouse Christmas hat and rushed to the stairs, but it wasn’t 19 years old Sergio who arrived downstairs, it was a much younger version of me who did it. Several gifts lain under the tree, and of course I went looking for one with my name on it. The view of the backyard showed what seemed to be nothing but a calm winter morning, but in reality, it felt like the prettiest morning, exhilarating warmth and feeding that feeling of fulfilledness.
My experience with an American Christmas was better than I could have ever imagined because it was also a venture for a more innocent part of myself, just like many others experiences I’ve had while living on the land of the free.
Sergio Saraiva, a Petroleum Engineering major from Natal, Brazil, studied at TU in 2013 through the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program.