Often times when people move from another country to the United States, they must adjust to the cultural differences present in our country.  Rikki Hirschowitz did not have to make these transitions based off her own experiences, but instead off the teachings of her parent’s experiences.

Rikki Hirschowitz

Hirschowitz was born in the United States, but moved with her family to South Africa when she was only six months old.  For over a year, she lived with her family in the African country before moving back to the United States, eventually settling in Dallas.  The family moved often prior to this because of her dad’s involvement in the diamond business, but settled in Dallas because of the unsafe environment at the time in South Africa.

Despite only living in South Africa for a year of her life, and a year she has no real recollection of, she still feels as if she grew up outside of the U.S.  “To this day I still feel like I was raised as if I lived in South Africa. Although I was in America when I learned to talk, I had South African accent when I was younger and as I got older in order to fit in with my friends I tried very hard to talk with an American accent,” Hirschowitz said.  Her upbringing varied from other children at her school in many ways, such as not being paid an allowance for completing household items because such chores were expected in South Africa.

The way in which her family practiced Judaism also was forced to be adjusted when they moved to the United States.  “The way (my parents) were brought up was a lot more strict than the way people practice it (in the U.S.) and when we were younger we were expected to practice it the exact same way they did.  As we got older my mom became a lot more lenient though,” Hirschowitz said.

Hirschowitz and her twin sister Bianca chose to attend the University of Arizona because of the large population of Jewish students, at the urgings of her mother (in 2009, UA ranked 19th on the list of public universities with the highest population of Jewish students).Attending school far from home also was difficult for her parents to accept because of differing traditions in secondary education between South Africa and the U.S.  “In South Africa kids don’t go away for college.  They graduate high school, take a ‘gap year’ where they can travel if they want to, and then move back home and live with their parents while they attend college,” Hirschowitz said.

Rikki and twin sister Bianca at age 8

Upon arriving at UA, Hirschowitz and her sister went through sorority rush to meet other people, despite having no real intentions of joining a sorority.  “I had absolutely no idea what a sorority or fraternity even was, and still after over a year and a half I have to explain things to my parents.”

Overcoming her original doubts, she joined Alpha Delta Pi with her sister, and is now in her fourth semester as a member of the sorority.  “If I had not joined a sorority I can honestly say I would have already either transferred to a school closer to my family or to a better film school,” Hirschowitz said.  Had she not joined a sorority, she maintains she does not think she, “would have been able to have a normal college experience because I would not have been surrounded by over 200 girls from different areas of the U.S. and the different various ways they were brought up.”

Hirschowitz is currently studying media arts, and plans to pursue a career in film production in the future.  This summer, she plans to intern in South Africa with her uncle’s production company, which produces commercials in South Africa.  After graduating, she hopes to work in Hollywood, or  “if all goes well I would absolutely love to go back to South Africa.”