International students get used to life in different country

Manuel Almanza, Contributing Writer

For international students, each with their own cultures and values, entering a new country and university can be intimidating.

Despite this, some students have found acceptance from others during their time at Eastern.

After going to church one Sunday morning, Jeonghyun Kim, a junior sociology major from South Korea and Anita Ineh, a junior biological sciences major from Nigeria, met an older woman they referred to as Annie. Annie showed them a necklace depicting several flags from different countries and demonstrated her interest in their cultures.

Annie gave the women a box full of cooking supplies and offered to help them whenever they might need it.

“People in Charleston … like to help,” Ineh said.

Kim said everyone she sees on her walks through the city greets her.

“In my country, people ignore you,” Kim said. “I feel like I’m special. Now, I even smile (at people) I don’t know.”

Olubusola Akinpelu, a graduate student in communication studies from Nigeria, was shocked to see how easily she interacted with her professors.

“Professors are like gods from where I’m from,” Akinpelu said. “You are expected to not speak.” Akinpelu has a different relationship with faculty members at Eastern.

“Professors here are very approachable,” Akinpelu said.

While many international students feel welcome, some have to deal with stereotypes and assumptions that they lack knowledge of the Western world and its trends.

“One time, I was asked if I knew Twitter, not if I had one,” Akinpelu said.

Students looking for information on getting settled in the U.S. can visit the Office of International Students and Scholars in Blair Hall.

Brenda Cuellar, associate director of international recruitment, said she understands that coming to a new country can be intimidating.

“I respect the bravery that these students show,” Cuellar said. “I want students to succeed and achieve their full potential.”

Manuel Almanza can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].