The U.S. in Words #1: In Hog Heaven (and More Ways to be Excited)

Editor’s note: Paula is an English as a Foreign Language teacher by training, so she’ll be sharing her experience in the U.S. through the phrases she’s learning, and the valuable words that describe her feelings and experiences.  So check back regularly for Paula’s special series, “The U.S. in Words.”  And don’t forget, if you’re looking for words about the U.S. education system, we define the terms you’ve suggested in our Glossary of Confusing Words.

In hog heaven – happy, in a perfect situation

I arrived in the U.S. two months ago as a Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) through a Fulbright Program. I had to literally pinch my arm to prove it wasn’t a dream. I started studying English when I was 7 and have loved the language since then. That love for English became love for the United States, and I have daydreamed about coming here ever since I was a child.

With the FLTAs at Stanford
With the FLTAs at Stanford

My first week was spent at Stanford University in California, together with 56 other FLTAs from around the globe. We were spoiled like little children with delicious food, parties and all kinds of activities to start off our year before we split up to go to the universities where we would ultimately be working and studying.

Towards the end of that week, as I prepared to travel to Susquehanna University, I started thinking, “Okay, that was too good to last for long.” I was preparing myself to start feeling homesick, or even to miss my new FLTA friends. But, guess what? That never happened.

When I met my advisor, she told me that it seemed I was in hog heaven.

It means being in your perfect surroundings, completely content and satisfied with your situation – exactly how I felt that first week in California and upon my arrival in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.

My life at Susquehanna so far has been one of discovery, of joy, of friendship, of growth, and of many many additional words to express my excitement about each of my new experiences:

To be pumped for something – Like going to my first football game, where I was so pumped to see the cheerleaders do their stunts, to hear the band play songs of encouragement, and even to cheer and boo along with the crowd (I had no idea what the rules were, so I really didn’t know when and what to cheer for!)

The view from the top of the Empire State Building in NY
The view from the top of the Empire State Building in NY

To be psyched for something – So filled with anticipation before going to New York to meet my mom, who came all the way from Uruguay, to accomplish this adventure we’d been waiting for a long time. I was psyched to see the Statue of Liberty, go to a Broadway show, and see the astounding view from the observatory deck of the Empire State Building.

To be stoked for something – Homecoming Weekend! Everything seemed literally as though it was from a movie. We’d invited a few other Fulbrighters over, and the nine of us were so stoked to make the most out of car-smashing (one of the fraternities raises money for a children’s hospital by letting you smash an old car with huge sledgehammers! Very useful for anger-management and relieving anxiety), riding a mechanical bull, taking pictures at the retro photo booth, dancing at the Homecoming Ball, and seeing the Homecoming Kings and Queens be crowned – all traditions at Susquehanna.

At my first Homecoming game
At my first Homecoming game

To be thrilled with something or someone – I was also thrilled to join the entire student body at Susquehanna’s Fall Concert, featuring Snoop Dogg, and to go dancing at a club for the first time in the U.S.; especially because it was the same club where Snoop Dogg enjoyed his after-party in the VIP room.

I know that at some point this “honeymoon stage” will end, and struggles will come up, but in the meantime, I’m going to indulge myself into the pleasures of this wonderful honeymoon with my beloved America.


  1. Hi Pau!

    We’ve just read your post and let us tell you that we’re very PROUD of you!
    Congrats on all your achievements! You definitely deserve all to be in hog of heaven!

    Sylvia says that you shouldn’t miss anything and that you ought to enjoy as much as possible!

    We go back a long time and I’m really happy to have met you and shared so many great things with you!

    Here we’re all fine and hope that we can get together when you come back.

    Take care!

    Ine and Syl

    1. Hi Ine & Syl!

      Thank you so much for being there and supporting me! I always remember those days back in TEFL – and look, they’ve proven very useful! I love writing for VOA!
      Thanks for sharing the material with your classes too!

      I’ll keep you posted!

  2. My beloved friend, I see you are taking advantage of this great experience day by day. It´s good to share feelings and experiences, just to keep in touch!
    A big hug!

    1. Dear Ale,

      Thanks a lot for your unconditional support! I am taking advantage of every opportunity that comes my way indeed. I promise to share all of them!

      Hugs! 🙂

  3. HI friend,
    I really love to read your news. You are really having a good time there! It´ s hard to know why but something like that kind of happened to me. I thought I was going to miss everybody so much but after a week or so I was completely aware of the fact that I was not going to miss anyone at all!! I remember I told Virginia and the other guys about it and we all kind of shared the same strange feeling.However, it was that very same night that I almost cried when I watched some photos of the previous week in NY with my sweety love…
    kisses from a sunny and warm afternoon in Montevideo

    1. Hola María!

      I’m glad you could identify with what I wrote. It’s not that we don’t love or care about the people that are far away, it’s just that at the beginning everything is so surprising and exciting that it takes most of our energy. But, as I said, it’s just a stage. Eventually, it is over and it leaves room for other stages, also normal for international students or people who are away from home in a similar situation.
      I embrace your kisses, because I kind of start needing those from home! 🙂
      Thanks a lot for your support.

  4. Great work Paula congrats!!! And as your former teacher, special congrats on the quality of your writing, your tone is just great! Keep having a wonderful experience.

    1. Many thanks for your support Silvia. I will never forget all the great things I learned back on my TEFL days. And I try to keep up with learning from life’s many many lessons. This is one of the very best opportunities I’ve had and I’m taking advantage of it in every sense possible.

      Keep posted!

  5. “I was preparing myself to start feeling homesick, or even to miss my new FLTA friends. But, guess what? That never happened” I am disappointed 🙁

    1. Hi Paula,

      We have the same name! I’m sorry you are disappointed, I actually meant well. It’s not that I don’t miss anybody, it’s just that the excitement about every new experience helps me keep a really positive state of mind. By the way, were we together at the orientation? I’m curious why you pointed out that part of the post in particular.

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