Eight Things Every International Student Should Do at St. Lawrence
I was born and raised in a tiny country in Southern Africa called Swaziland. I attended a national primary school in the capital city of Swaziland, and for my secondary education I attended an international school called Waterford Kamhlaba, which was also in the capital city. Attending an international school exposed me to so many people who had a history and personal experience different from mine. I constantly learned about different cultures, traditions, languages, and beliefs and would find myself continuously sharing about mine. After 19 years of living in Swaziland, I uprooted everything, left everything I knew and travelled 8,000 miles to a land I had never visited before. One of the best decisions I have made. However, I wouldn’t have enjoyed my experience here at SLU as much as I have if I did not go out of my way to get out of my comfort zones and try new things. These are some of the things I did to make the most of my time here at SLU. As a young, intimidated, international first-year student, I wish I had a list of things or a manual of some sort as to how to navigate and enjoy this international experience. So this is for all my fellow international students who are trying to navigate this space and enjoy your years here in Canton. Enjoy!
- Use the Resources Available: St. Lawrence has so many different resources for students that many of us don’t know about or learn about them until it's too late in our college career. I recently travelled to New York City to present at a conference which was fully funded by SLU. Take advantage of everything SLU has given you!
- I-House Tea Time: The International House in Sykes Residence Hall hosts Tea Time every Wednesday night at 9:00 p.m. I attended nearly every single Tea Time in my first year. I met so many people from many different countries and got to bond over our interests in cross-cultural learning. Looking back, most, if not all, of my closest friendships now in my senior year were formed at I-House during Tea Time.
- Get Plugged In: Get involved in an organization or join a sports team! Get a job through which you can engage with different people. My sophomore year, I was a Math and Reading Tutor and went around to different schools in and around Canton, assisting teachers and tutoring students when needed. This was a really fun way I got engaged with the Canton community and made friendships that carried me through my four years.
- Travel: One of the best things at SLU is that we have a number of breaks which are all quite lengthy and just enough time to get a little excursion in. The North Country is a great place but there is so much more to America and American culture, so I have loved travelling and visiting different places. The Amtrak and Greyhound have been some of my closest companions during my four years here at SLU. I would advise you to create an Amtrak/Greyhound account as soon as possible, that way you can rack up as many points as you can and hopefully have some free rides by your senior year!
- Explore the NoCo: Canton and its surrounding towns have a lot to offer! From the local farmer’s market to Nature's Storehouse on Main Street in Canton, you can find a variety of food products. You should also check out different coffee shops in Potsdam. Personally, exploring the NoCo has been one of my favorite pastimes and study breaks. Such a breath of fresh air!
- Take a Trip to the Grasse River: This is a must do. The river is a 5-10 minute walk from campus and is such a great excursion during warmer Canton days. From canoeing to rope swinging to swimming to even just simply enjoying the warm weather, good company and great views!
- Jake's On The Water: Some of my best eating experiences have been at Jake's On The Water, which is about 20 minutes from campus in Hannawa Falls. Their Sunday brunches are so delicious and dreamy! I’ve also had dinner there a few times which have sent me outside of this world. College can be stressful at times and its so easy to get caught up in the stressful, heavy workload funk so sometimes you need to dress up, look fancy and have a GOOD meal! Treat yourself!
- Try Something New: As an international student, SLU becomes your new normal and looking back on the past four years, I would have never gotten so much out of my college years if I never tried something new. Make friends, go out, explore the country and flourish in your intercultural experience! Have conversations with people whose views are different from yours. Share a meal with someone who is majoring in something different to what you are majoring. You get so much more out of new experiences than you do from your normal, comfortable ones.