Shopping is one of the most important things that one thinks of before traveling from home as an International Student. Whether its clothes, beddings, groceries, or just simply school supplies. When I was traveling from home I have only carried the things are necessary and was planning on buying the rest from America once I arrive. However, there were some things that I did not know before when I went shopping for the first time and shopping in America in general so I would like to share a few things that I experienced while shopping during my time in America so far.
Shopping for the first time
Before arriving in America, I had only brought things that were necessary like clothes to wear, towels and other necessary materials. Once I arrived I knew I would need things like bedding and pillows, but the only problem was I knew nothing about what places to go shopping or where can I find everything I need. A few days after my arrival I have asked one of the international Student Ambassadors to help with deciding where to go shopping and he was really nice and gave me a few options. Back home in Somalia when someone is shopping for bedding or bedroom materials, in general, they have a specific shop for it, but the thing that confused me the most here was that one could find everything in one big store (or supermarket), so I realized that I would need to go to a store to buy my bedding and I did. My options were Target or Walmart since they were the two famous stores here in Davenport IA. So I went to Walmart to shop. Soon after seeing how big Walmart is I thought I would get lost because we never had such big stores back home, so the ambassadors helped me around and took me to the right aisles for the things I was looking for. The thing that I really liked the most when I shopped for the first time was the fact that I did not have to go to different places to buy different things. So I bought bedding, hair products, school supplies and essentials from Walmart itself. After picking up all the things I needed from Walmart we walked over to the self-checkout, and I couldn’t believe it. It made me think how my back home is far from modern technology; there was no self-checkout so a cashier would run the machine and process our payments. So I got very excited about making my own transaction for the first time in my life, I scanned everything and processed my payment, in a way I was really proud because I have done something that I had never done in my entire life. Although they were cashiers to process the payments I became a fan of the self-checkout and up to this date I only use the self-checkout because I have gotten very used to it and its faster checkout.
Experiencing mall shopping in America
A few months later I have made so many friends and became so close that we would take a trip to the mall closest to campus every weekend. The mall in Davenport wasn’t very big, but it still was a place for me to just have a good time with my friends and look around to see if there is anything I like. In November it was my very first Thanksgiving in America, and my first Black Friday, the school was off so I went to Minneapolis to visit a family member and with them I went to do black Friday shopping at the Mall of America. The Mall of America is one of the largest malls in America on black Friday the mall was so crowded that we had to wait in line for hours to get inside the store. Winter was coming so I need some winter coats so as we were looking around the mall we finally got into one store, and they had decent winter clothes so my family and I decided to shop there. One thing that I was doing before picking up a cloth to buy is figuring out the price in my home currency, and anything I picked up seemed to be expensive. I got frustrated and decided to not go through the currency exchange process and bought a few good winter coats. Shopping during Black Friday was one of the big shopping experiences that I had, the crowd, the craziness and the big lines outside the store amazed me of how big black Friday shopping is in America. Up to this date I always push my big shopping needs to black Friday so I can buy more stuff by paying less money.
Buying school supplies after the first year.
Back to school shopping was another big thing in America. The stores are always crowded after summer, and people are all the shelves in the school aisles were filled with materials. In my second year of school, I tried Dollar Tree to buy my school supplies and I was amazed by their pricing and the decent quality of their products. Dollar tree was a walking distance from the campus, and I started shopping there for all my minor needs. Buying textbooks was a big worry because for the first two semesters I have bought books from the campus bookstore, but it was expensive. The reason for choosing to buy from the bookstore was that back home there were no online book buying services and we would always go to the bookstore and buy all the school supplies, so it was a bit hard to get used to shopping textbooks online. So in my second year I decided to give Amazon and Chegg a shot, and this time instead of buying them, I rented them out. The school back home used to run for a whole year, but here in America the class was only for a semester so every semester, I would need to buy new books for the new classes, so renting them saved me a lot of money. I liked shopping online so much that every semester after that I rented all my books from either Amazon or Chegg whichever one had the cheapest.
Shopping in America has given me a lot of experience and introduced me to a lot of new things that I think I wouldn’t have known about if I hadn’t come to America for school. Whether it’s the first time going to Walmart or Black Friday shopping, I have gained invaluable experiences and learned the right strategies for shopping in America. I am looking very much forward to the next black Friday shopping with my friends and the experiences that it will bring.
Aweys Ahmed Aweys of Somalia, is studying Finance and Marketing at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa