Originally from Brussels, Belgium, Colleen Black carries a journey unlike most international students at Lynn.
With American and British parents, she holds both nationalities. However, her family found its way to Europe as a result of her father’s position with NATO.
“Even though I have both the British and American nationalities, Belgium is where I feel most at home,” said Black, senior, psychology major and criminal justice minor.
Black attended a European school comparable to Lynn, enhancing her experiences with diversity in her younger years. As a youth, she was exposed to an array of nationalities, allowing her to develop a love for learning about other cultures. She channeled this passion for learning about other cultures in learning other languages; Black fluently speaks both French and English and possesses a basic understanding of Spanish.
During her final year of high school, she chose to apply to numerous universities in England like most of her friends. She ultimately came across Lynn after her grandmother, a resident of Deerfield Beach, urged her to consider becoming a Fighting Knight.
“I liked the support system Lynn offered for students with learning disabilities,” said Black. “I also appreciated the fact that it was an international school since I come from that kind of schooling background.”
After receiving acceptance to various schools in England and at Lynn, she decided to take the big step across the pond to Boca Raton. Her journey ever since has been nothing but a roller coaster.
“Although I am technically American and I have been in the country before, I did experience a culture shock with certain aspects of American life,” said Black.
She recalls how the school system was different from the one in Europe. She neither understood a grade point average, nor did she understand the American grading system. Also, Black was surprised by the lifestyle people her age led in the U.S.
“Most people around here already had working experience, and they had had their driver’s license for years,” said Black. “Back home, I would not have been able to pursue a license until I was 18. To work, I would have had to meet certain age requirements and had operating knowledge of Dutch, French and English.”
Black also noticed how the forms of transportation was different between her native land and her newfound home. In her view, the public services in the U.S. are not comparable to those in Europe.
“Everything is bigger in America – the meal sizes, the houses and the cars. As a result, everything is more spread out,” said Black. “Coming from a densely populated city, it was hard to adapt, but it pushed me to get my driver’s license during my freshman year.”
Black takes a keen interest in the U.S. prison system and hopes to pursue a career in that realm one day. After graduation, she plans to stay in the country. Above all, she is grateful for her ultimate move to Lynn, allowing her to maintain the international background she had valued for so long.