Being back into the full swing of things at school, I can now see how my experience abroad has affected my life on campus. I have become fascinated with foreign exchange students. I will be the first to admit that I never really was too curious about international students at Iowa, until now that I had the experience as being an international student myself. My experience of being abroad has really opened up my eyes to Iowa’s international program, which is actually very extensive. People come to Iowa from everywhere to study. I’m not yet sure why Iowa, when they could be somewhere like New York City or Chicago. I have heard that they know the midwestern mentality, and I have also heard that we don’t have accents in the midwest so it is easier to understand us. Either way, hundreds of international students come to Iowa every year, and I am just now taking a huge notice to them.
What helped me see this is an organization/activity on campus that I have joined. The organization matches up American volunteers to exchange students that are new to Iowa. There are about 35 of both, so the numbers worked out well for the program. About a week and a half ago, we finally met our international student at a coffee shop. The students were matched up by either interests of majors. I was matched up with a girl from South Korea named Hyejung. She is a finance and economics major living in the dorm I used to live in. I have met with her on consecutive Wednesdays at the coffeeshop, where people meet every week. She also asked for help with her finance homework, so I was able to help because I took the course last year.
Through this program, I haven’t just met her either. Since many students come to the coffeeshop, I am able to meet others in the program too. So far I have met people from Dubai, Australia, Lithuania, Austria, France, South Korea, and China. It’s such a great opportunity to meet new people since everyone is open to meet others. And it is a nice way to learn more about different cultures by just hanging out with these students.
I have also realized that meeting new people is one of my favorite things to do, whether it is just a one-time conversation or if it leads to hanging out more often afterwards. No matter how my day is going, I get much satisfaction from just meeting someone new. The fact that I am at a University makes this a fairly easy task too. I have set a goal for myself to meet at least 5 new people per week. I have done this through the organization, through other friends, or by randomly meeting people. I have accomplished this goal two weeks in a row by meeting 5 people two weeks ago and about 10 people this past week. Will the streak continue?
I challenge you to meet at least one new person every week, and meet more if you can. By talking to someone new, you will probably learn something new.