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Embrace New Cultures At School

A good portion of college students may feel uncomfortable approaching international students and get to know them because they're from totally different cultures, but students should take advantage of this chance.

It’s sometimes an incredibly difficult transition for foreign college students to adapt to their brand new culture. Many American students steer away from foreign students because they may behave quite differently than they do. This shouldn’t be the case, and many colleges across the country have programs established for foreign students to integrate more easily.

Marquette’s program is called Global Village, which allows domestic students the opportunity to stay on a special apartment floor with foreign students to assist them with the cultural transition. Activities may include going to local theater performances, restaurants, pubs, and maybe even leaving Milwaukee to see what other sites the U.S. has to offer.

It’s not unusual for foreign students to try and immediately find students from their own country to become friends with. That’s the way it typically plays out at Marquette; they talk to each other in their native language and join school clubs pertaining to their nationality. 

American students will leave the foreign students alone once they have reached this phase because they’d like to avoid feeling awkward being the only American person in their foreign friend’s group. Despite this, an effort should be made to reach out to these individuals and learn about a new culture, even if you’re the sole American in the bunch.

If you don’t already live with an international student, the next easiest way to meet new people from around the world is to join school clubs. It is likely too late at this point to sign up because clubs are already in full swing, but it should certainly be taken into consideration next semester. Italian Club, Chinese Club, Polish Club, Latin America Club, you name it. A sizable portion of students in these clubs do not hail from the region of the club’s title, so realize you will be with other American students too.

Making a drastic life adjustment such as living in a whole new country can be hard for international students. Remember when you were wary about traveling those few hours by car to get to your school? Some of these students are a 10-hour flight from home and can probably only go home a couple times per year because of the constantly rising airfare.

If you see someone who could use some company it would probably make their day if you sat down and got to know them. Sometimes they may prefer to just be left alone, but odds are you could make a really good friend if you invest the time in getting familiar with them.

I think it has become a problem among teenagers and college students nowadays to ignore cultures besides their own. It’s understandable because it’s the culture they have known their whole lives and have grown comfortable with it, but at some point an adjustment needs to be made to broaden one’s horizons and step out of their comfort zone. The most effective form of this is studying abroad, but it’s financially demanding. 

So although it might be late to join a cultural club at this moment, there will be other new ones popping up in the spring. Take advantage of meeting new people not only because you can make a friend out of it, but they may also be solid career contacts for when you graduate. You just never know.

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PATTY BILYO October 15, 2012 at 05:25 PM
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