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Strangers in a Strange Land

(Posted March 6, 2013)

We all have experienced a situation in which we were "the foreigner." Whether playing the role of tourist in a foreign country, or the role of student studying abroad, there are times when students feel homesick, apprehensive, anxious, excited, scared, and different. Differences in culture and language can make some transitions more difficult than others. International students were asked about their experiences here at Juniata.

Yadir Lakal '16, Casablanca , Morocco
When I first came, I was surprised by the American necessity to have personal space. I found Americans more reserved than I had expected, which made it hard to meet new people and socialize. Personally though, I felt welcome. Living in a new life made me forget the transitioning problems because it was new and exciting. It was easier than I expected. I think the fact that I came to Juniata made it easier because people here are very welcoming.

Ruixing, Wang '13 Xi'an, China
The culture here is totally different from China. The first year I came here, it was really hard because I had to change my perspective and habits. The orientation at the beginning of the fall semester helped a lot because I had to speak English every day with the other internationals. Communicating with other foreign students is easier because I can empathize with them. With domestic students, I now have the ability to view their culture, as well as mine though they are different. I feel more involved here, more than I expected to be.

Yihong, Wang '13 Nanchong, China
I feel like when I first came here, the community people were very nice. It's a very harmonious community and I was surprised by that at first. At the orientation, we were told a lot of things about the culture, but found that I learned more things about the cultural differences from listening to the American people around me. It was easy to transition because when I came here there were a lot of international students and I spent a lot of time hanging with them and traveling. Sometimes it's hard to communicate with American students. My roommate my first year was American and it was hard for me to communicate because of the language barrier. She and her friends used slang and talked fast and it was hard.

Hector Pilaguano Herrera; Quito, Ecuador
Mostly the cultures are the same, but the biggest differences are the language and food. I feel comfortable here and I don't have any problems. I talk with both internationals and Americans, but I spend most of my time with international students because they are my closer friends, but I also have American friends. My business classes are challenging because I have to read a lot in a different language and it takes a long time to write papers. I don't have problems speaking, it's mostly writing.

Htay Tin, Yangon, Burma:
Coming here was not really a big culture shock. I felt it was easy to adapt and meet people. Culturally, things are really different, but it wasn't difficult for me to adapt to these differences. The biggest difference is the weather and the food. I'm getting used to it, but in the beginning it was really cold here for me. I try to make a lot of American friends, but I think culturally, we are really different. Asian cultures are all similar, so it's easier to meet other Asians. But I also have a lot of American friends.

Kaori Honda, Ebethu, Japan:
When I came here, I didn't really see a huge cultural difference. American movies are very popular in Japan, so I wasn't very surprised. One thing that surprised me is the relationship between the students and professors. Here, professors are very friendly and in Japan, the relationship is more formal. I am surprised that students call professors by their first names. I don't have that many American friends because most of the classes I take are ESL, so I don't have that many chances to meet other people.

-Hannah Jeffery '16, Juniata Online Journalist

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.