MC globe trotters

The 2011 fall semester is well and truly underway, and by now the reality of academia is really starting to hit home for the majority. Enthusiasm and exuberance coming off the back of summer vacation is probably starting to wane, as classes take off and the slog until fall break ensues.

However, for 69 of this year’s student population, college life is a little different. Being an international student at Maryville College is a totally different kettle of fish. This year, we have students from 25 countries enrolled in undergraduate degree courses, exchange programs or ESL (English as a Second Language).

For the new internationals, it can be a fairly daunting task trying to adjust to life in East Tennessee. The fanatic consumption of sweet tea, fried food and ranch dressing can take a bit of getting used to. Nevertheless, being here provides a great opportunity to live and study in a foreign country for an extended period of time. It opens your eyes and really does broaden your horizons, all the while formulating a real passion for your home country.

This year, the internationals flock from far and wide, with Pakistan, Rwanda, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan being added to the usual array of Asian, South American and European wandering minds.

Five of the students – Aidai Kozhalieva from Kyrgyzstan, Yaroslav Brychka from the Ukraine, Su Nge Aung from Myanmar and Jing Ning of China – are here through the U.S. Department of State Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (Global UGRAD)  and had to compete against hundreds of other students to get here.

The highly competitive Global UGRAD strives to instill youth leadership and promote mutual understanding with a year of non-degree U.S. study to undergraduates from 12 countries of the former Soviet Union. Furthermore, Global UGRAD fellows perform community service, explore American traditions through the unique Cultural Passport to America program and hold one-semester internships.

This year, the international community is ridiculously diverse. It is a fascinating experience being an international student, but talking to and learning from internationals can be just as rewarding. So banter about cultural differences, share stories and get involved with the international students.

We are spoilt rotten having a sample of the global community on our campus, so don’t pass up the chance to find out a little more about the world outside the 50 states. I bet there aren’t too many people at MC who know much about the ins and outs of Myanmar, for example.

Don’t miss out; embrace our differences and make Maryville feel like a home from home.

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