Viewing American films and TV shows wasn't enough to prepare Serge Treyger for his emigration to the United States.
So when he arrived in the summer of 1996, he had a lot of adjusting to do before his encounter with the "American kids" at his first day of school.
At age 8, Treyger and his family moved from Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, to the United States. Initially, the move was a culture shock and Treyger had to quickly adapt with only the 4th-grade-level basic English he learned in the Ukraine public schools.
During that summer, Treyger spent a lot of time developing his English the best way he knew how: watching American television programs. He would watch anything from Disney movies to his favorite show, the 1990s sitcom Married with Children. Watching facial and bodily expressions while studying the dialogue further helped Treyger acquire fluency in American English.
America had a vast amount of things to offer Treyger and his family, but one of the things that fascinated Serge the most was bananas, which he ate frequently. He had never seen this fruit before and was so obsessed with it that he ate it for two months straight.
"In my country there weren't a lot of fruits readily available and the imports limited and ridiculously expensive," Treyger said. "So when I came to the U.S., I went bananas over bananas."
Treyger continued on to higher education, transferring to Florida Atlantic University from Broward College, where he received his associate's degree. Thirteen years after his emigration,
Treyger is now a 22-year-old senior, majoring in education and working as a student employee in the Wimberly Library on the Boca Raton campus.
At the beginning of his junior year, Treyger landed a job in the Department of Communications, Cultural Affairs and Donor Relations. There, he works on a number of projects, including finding "hits," which are mentions of events on FAU's campuses from outside newspapers and other media outlets. He also can be found walking up and down the library's hallways shelving books or helping students at the circulation desk.
Rose Green, a library technical assistant at the circulation desk, describes Treyger as an "energetic, quick starter, and professional student who is very accommodating and usually the first to volunteer with things."
"He's a true people person. You have to be a people person to work here," Green said. "You have to be 'up,' and he is 'up.' "
Ninoska Worrell, who also works as a library technical assistant at the circulation desk, describes Treyger as "reliable, friendly and helpful."
"He's a really good student who cares about his work," Worrell said.
Treyger has nice things to say about his job, as well.
"It has been a positive experience throughout my undergraduate years. It has been rewarding meeting so many people," he said. "FAU really cares about the students and allows them to take any time off for academics."
Many people may see the library as just an unobtrusive building filled with loads of books. Not much excitement and not much going on. But Treyger will be the first to tell you that the library contains many fascinating and informative resources.
For example, on the fifth floor, you can find exhibitions that have a collection of Civil War memorabilia such as contemporary bullets and photographs, he said. There also are special books collections, artwork and even sculptures.
Treyger also said special exhibitions at the library offer "a great learning experience that is beautiful and original." Along with books and digital collections, students can also rent anything from a study room to a laptop, he added.
When he is not working or hanging out with his close friends, you can find Treyger with a book in his hand, which might be one of the reasons this ambitious student is the first-ever recipient of the Jewish Cultural Society Student Employee Scholarship at FAU. This scholarship sponsors achieving student employees for one semester, and it is helping him finish his undergraduate work.
After getting his bachelor's degree, Treyger anticipates staying at FAU as a graduate student assistant or teacher's assistant while he pursues his master's in European history. After he's obtained his degrees, Treyger wants to be a professor at a community college and then move on to teach at a college such as FAU, where his experience has been a positive one.
"I'm glad that I came to FAU," he said. "They've been really nice and [the school] has given a lot to me while I was here. It was a really good experience, and I've met a lot of great people."