Friends from Far Places

Coming to college in the heart of the Deep South, the last thing I expected Troy to have was a healthy international program. How surprised and delighted I was when I arrived and learned that our study abroad opportunities are abundant and accessible, our university has locations across the globe, and our campus’s international population is one of the largest in the country.

I walk across the quad and hear people speaking German, Chinese, Italian, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and so on. Just on our campus, I’ve met people from over thirty countries, some of whom have become good friends who I’m going to stay in touch with and visit even after they move back across the world.

My international relationships have had a huge impact on me and through them, my perspective of the world has been so broadened. They’ve introduced me to so many different cultures without ever leaving Troy. What an unanticipated blessing!

I’ve heard many students express their desire to get to know international students but say they don’t know how to go about it. Here are a few of the ways I’ve found to do this at Troy:

  1. Troy Study Abroad Club. This club was founded in Fall 2016 to connect international students in Troy and Americans interested in studying abroad (or just traveling), and also to interest more students in studying abroad. With events like speed-friending, tailgates, and beach days, this is a fun way to get to know students from across the world. (To keep up with their events, join the Facebook group.)
  2. Tea for Troy. Every other Thursday at 7, internationals and Americans gather to hear students give a presentation about the tea traditions in their home country, and afterwards mingle and share a cuppa. The casual atmosphere lends itself to meeting new people—and who doesn’t love a spot of tea?
  3. Conversation Partners. This program pairs an American student with an international student so they can get together once a week and talk, and thereby improve the international student’s English conversational skills, foster an exchange of cultures, and build friendships.
  4. Pace Hall. Simply spending time in the international dorm is a great way to travel the globe without leaving Troy!
  5. Just TALK. I met my closest international friend in line at Einstein’s one afternoon. I heard her German accent and introduced myself, and we hit it off immediately. She came home with me for Thanksgiving, and was a big part of my freshman year. We still keep in touch—in fact, she sent me a card just the other day!

Meeting international students doesn’t have to be intimidating or difficult. Largely, it’s just about putting yourself out there, taking the initiative to reach out and get out of your comfort zone. Most international students are eager to get to know Americans—that’s why they’re here, to experience a different culture, improve their English, and meet new people.

So seize this opportunity, get out there, and meet an international student.

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