Internationals: A Little Perspective

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Column by Taylor Grace Suiter, Senior from Brentwood, Tennessee

When I first moved to Murray one thing surprised me more than my unexpected culture shock did – the international population.

They were an astonishingly active, large part of campus, but at the same time they were a bit “off” and seemed to be everywhere – riding in Wal-Mart carts down sidewalks, whispering in line before ordering at Winslow, carrying parasols across the bridge and wearing shower shoes outside on rainy days. I didn’t get it.

Surely these people read up on American culture before moving to Kentucky, right?

STRAIGHT UP WRONG.

This semester I am an international student at Universitat Regensburg, one of Murray’s exchange program partnership schools.

I have visited Germany before on a shorter study abroad program, but now that I am staying for a semester  I find myself doing what used to be annoy me about international students.

I take too long in lines, I stare curiously at what Germans consider everyday items and I have even stood in the center of campus looking like Dorothy when she first sees in technicolor.

I am entering an entirely new environment, just like those arriving in Murray from across the world are at this time of year.

The one factor that has made my study abroad experience smoother on a minute-to-minute basis has been the help of strangers. Asking someone in a crowd for directions has meant the difference between missing a class field trip and not. Somebody offering an explanation of the food at the Mensa (the German version of Winslow) meant that my stomach could go another day without aching.

Thanks to the help of new roommates and unsuspecting strangers I am making my way. If I was trying to figure out everything on my own, I would be beside myself with fear and confusion – and I’m only a week into my program.

This piece is really a call to action. Murray State’s international population is comprised of 825 students.

If you know enough about Murray’s campus to find a copy of The News and read it, you know enough to help a new Racer – whether they’re studying abroad in Murray for the semester or they’re even just a freshman.

The overwhelming experience of assimilating into a new culture can be a lot to handle, and not just for international students. Culture shock comes to those who have traveled within the Regional Discount area, too.

The next time someone seems lost or doesn’t know what to order at Burrito Shack, lend a hand or give some advice.

Everyone new to campus has unanswered questions, and it’s our job as Racers to give each other hope and endeavor the unknown in order to attain achievement.