It was almost three years ago when I was packing for college with my mother. It was my last day in Germany, and clothes were scattered all over my bedroom floor. All of my belongings that I had collected for 18 years of my life now suddenly had to fit in the two suitcases I was allowed to bring on my flight. I remember my mother giving me advice about my time in college, and one that stuck with me until today was, “College is the time to branch out, to learn new things, and to make friends that last a lifetime”. Looking back now, it was the best advice I was given.
I was concerned about going to a school that I had never visited before and that I knew almost nothing about except from the brochures that arrived at my house the summer before my first year. Coming to SLU on a hot summer day in August felt like jumping into an ice-cold pool of water. I was nervous when I walked through the arrival gates of the Syracuse airport, but when I saw the friendly guy in the scarlet and brown shirt waving at me, I was relieved. I experienced a warm welcome from the first minute at SLU, and in my three years here, that has not changed.
One of the major reasons I felt so comfortable here at SLU was the incredibly supportive international community. Contrary to popular belief, international students are not just here to learn about American culture, but our various cultural backgrounds make it easy for any domestic student to visit the world without even leaving our beautiful campus up here in the North Country. Every Wednesday, for example, we gather in the lounge of our International Theme House on campus to drink tea together and talk about what has been going on in the last week. I like to advertise teatime to my friends as an opportunity to visit over 60 countries in under an hour, and those who take advantage of this event can definitely learn a lot from us international students.
This year, we are planning new interesting events to raise international awareness on our campus. For our International Education Week, which happens every year in November, our student government’s international committee is planning an international dance recital accompanied by a tasting of food from our respective countries. I cannot imagine a better night than watching my classmates perform dances from their home country while drinking Chai tea and eating Chapati. When I first set foot on this campus, I never thought I would find so much international diversity up here in northern New York. For those who seek them, there are endless opportunities to get to know different cultures first hand, be it through our cultural shows like Kaleidoscope (happening every spring semester) or our cultural clubs on campus (like ASIA, the African Student Union or the Islamic Culture Club, for example).
For me, all these activities are not just a way to relax after a stressful day, but it is an opportunity to do all the things my mom told me about so long ago: to branch out, learn new things, and make great friends. So if you are looking to meet a great bunch of people from all over the world while trying delicious new food and picking up a few words of different languages, the international community at SLU awaits you with open arms.
Can’t wait to drink tea with you guys soon!