An Internationally Flavored Campus
At the end of my junior year of high school, I was quite pleased with myself. I had finally made it to senior year, the pinnacle of high school. With my school’s sea-foam green, senior shirt came all the prestige of being a senior: underclassmen looked up to me; teammates respected my leadership; and teachers treated me with respect. Life was good.
Then something demolished my perfect kingdom with one mighty swing–graduation. I graduated in June, had a wonderful summer, and came to Bison Hill without any idea of what to expect. Despite carrying a dark blue passport from the United States of America, I joined the international students, an awesome bunch of students who hail from all over the world (South Korea, China, Chile, Germany, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Taiwan, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Indonesia, and Spain), since I grew up in Southeast Asia. Our orientation began a few days before Move-in Day. When the international students showed up, the only people on campus were RA’s, athletes, and us, a highly intimidating situation since the athletes towered over me and the RA’s weren’t new like me. Suddenly, I was no longer the king of a kingdom but a stable boy in another kingdom.
Being a stable boy didn’t mean that I couldn’t have fun, however. In the first few days on campus, I went to the movies with the other international students, played cards late into the night, and tossed the Frisbee at night, which was more like Russian Roulette since I had little idea of where the Frisbee was until it was about five feet from my face. In any case, I had fun (bruises included) and to say otherwise would be a lie.
It’s surprising how well international students can connect on the strangest things. One day we were waiting to begin a small group meeting during Welcome Week, and we shared poems from our respective countries. It began with one poem and soon everyone was sharing poetry from home. Because I’ve always loved language, I had a great time listening to the other students. To be clear, I am no linguist, but the sound of language has always fascinated me, which probably explains why I picked up an Indian, Irish, and Malaysian accent in my time abroad. Listening to the poems was exciting because I got the chance to listen to not one nor two, but seven different poems in seven different languages.
Another time, we played racquetball and tried to teach each other how to speak our respective languages. I tried learning Mandarin, and let’s just say, I still can’t speak it. I learned bits and pieces from one friend from China. Occasionally, I would learn a phrase and go use my newly-acquired language skills on another friend from China. That became particularly fun when I learned how to say “I love you” and startled the second friend while he was eating . . .
As the days went by, I started to realize that college students are just like me. We’re all new to this school and away from home and family. Some of us are really far from family and have to learn how to survive in a new culture on top of learning how to survive Calculus or English. Regardless of who you are, you find people that will throw a Frisbee at you in the middle of the night or recite poetry with you to stave off boredom. I may no longer be a king, so-to-speak, but I have a great crowd of friends ready and willing to charge into college with me and make memories that last a lifetime.