Rusea’s old boy adjusting to first Christmas abroad

December 21, 2020

Raheem Graham, 20, has been living his dream of studying in the United States.

Back in August, Graham received an academic scholarship from Bethany Lutheran College in Minnesota to read for a degree in human biology.

Graham, past head boy of Rusea’s High School, needed to accumulate US$6,500 for his first semester and sought help to raise half of that. After pleading for assistance in THE STAR, he was able to raise the needed tuition on his GoFundMe account.

Now, just three months later, the Logwood, Hanover native, will be spending his first Christmas away from home and his family.

“There are limited breaks where I can go home to see my family and it takes planning on which break is best to go home. I’m really enjoying my time here. The cultural diversity in the classrooms gives me the opportunity to see things from different points of view and I really like that. Professors are very understanding and work really close with us to help us in any way. I couldn’t ask for anything better being in a completely new place,” Graham told THE STAR.

Though fulfilling a dream he had since he was 13, the current pandemic has made things less smooth.

“I went up September 3. The privilege of having in-person classes was with me until a COVID-19 outbreak on campus led to everything being moved online,” he said. For many, that would’ve been the cue to pack their bags and rush back home to familiarity. But not Graham.

“Adjusting wasn’t really hard for me. The biggest challenge was the cultural diversity in my extracurricular activities, particularly football, where there were often disagreements on certain things because of how each individual from the different backgrounds approached certain situations,” he said.

With regards to schooling, he says it has been a “really smooth” semester despite the shift to online.

“Being away from my family, it is sad, because I would want to be around people who know me best. But I know that was a sacrifice I would have to make when I decided to study overseas and so, I just have to deal with it,” he related. There are two distinctly Jamaican things that Graham said he will miss the most this Christmas, the warm weather and food.

“I am at a place where the weather majority of the time is below five degrees Celsius and that is most certainly not what I am used to,” he said.

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