Simply by walking around campus, students can encounter a medley of languages and cultures each day.
Students hailing from Saudi Arabia to South Africa attend lectures, play sports and hang out at campus hotspots. Many times a year, international student organizations hold cultural nights to introduce the community to their food, music and other traditions.
International students make up roughly eight percent of ISU students, and while international enrollment is dropping, the school’s numbers are still higher than the national average.
Readers submitted their burning questions about international students’ experiences to The Bengal, and four students from Nepal, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan delivered. Responses have been edited for clarity.
Who are you?
Ghimire: Name: Kaushal Raj Ghimire. Major: civil engineering. From: Nepal.
Manno: Name: Mary June Manno. Major: psychology and visual communication. From: Taiwan.
Almutawa: Name: Seraj Almutawa. Major: communication, advertising. From: Saudi Arabia.
Amatya: Name: Grusha Amatya. Major: international studies with a concentration in political and economic development. From: Kathmandu, Nepal.
What can we be doing to better help international students?
Ghimire: To better help international students, we can probably organize various events where people from different countries come together and share their culture and language diversity with people from America.
Manno: Maybe have an event for international students once a month instead of just the International Students Association bowling event at the beginning of the semester. A counselor for international students wouldn’t hurt, I think, for support purposes if they need it or aren’t feeling comfortable yet.
Almutawa: Try to get them involved with the culture, don’t treat them as strangers.
Amatya: It would be very helpful if orientation programs could provide information about the do’s and don’t’s of the American culture in order to remove the cultural gap as at times it can be overwhelming. For example, in Nepal, we don’t just pass a smile at strangers but here it’s a common thing.
What’s one thing you find weird about American culture?
Ghimire: I have not actually found anything weird yet. People and their culture are awesome here. The hospitality they show is the best part of the American people.
Manno: The Trump supporters. I find it weird how racism is such a big deal here because it has to be in order for there to be equality and less discrimination between the races. Xenophobia is such a huge problem in America, but so is the American diet of eating and drinking huge amounts of sugar and GMOs.
Almutawa: I was surprised about how everyone smiling to each other and saying hi even if you don’t know him.
Amatya: One thing I find weird about American culture is the question itself, “How are you?” It’s just a greeting.
What’s the weirdest thing Americans eat? What’s your favorite American food?
Ghimire: Deadly crabs would be something that makes me wonder how they eat it. My favorite American food is pizza.
Manno: Nothing’s really weird that Americans eat that I can think of… just the high intake of food and large portions—which works fine for me because that just means I get to have leftovers to take home and split that one-meal price into two! I can’t lie—when I really crave a burger, I love it.
Almutawa: I don’t see any weirdest thing. I love steak.
Amatya: Weirdest thing Americans eat is topping their food with cheese, basically cheese on everything.
Do you think Americans are more or less entitled or selfish than people in other countries?
Ghimire: I have found people to be honest here. They don’t usually show off. [They] work hard for their living. You get selfish when you work for those things. Yeah, a little selfish though.
Manno: I think Americans have so much pride in their own country. There is a great amount of patriotism in America, and I think that’s really a great thing, because that is probably what holds America together the best. However, there is a lot of nationalism too, which makes them believe that their country is superior, which sadly, is a belief that often segregates them from the rest of the world and they don’t have that desire to explore beyond America.
Almutawa: No, I think everywhere has some selfish people.
Amatya: I think Americans are more entitled when they visit different countries.
If you have a question you’ve always wanted to ask an international student, send it to ude.usinull@feihcgb with “International Q&A” in the subject line. All submitted questions will be kept anonymous.