How it is being a third culture student at EIU

Adriana Hernadez-Santana, Junior Feature Editor


Being an International student comes with a bunch of different life experiences. Whether it be trying a bunch of new foods, or getting acclimated to Western culture, people can learn to really enjoy themselves, but that doesn’t make it easy.

As for technology grad student Kyle Ignalaga, it is especially hard when he considers himself a third-culture international student. 

So what does it mean to be a third culture student?

Ignalaga explained that he grew up in the Middle East, in Bahrain, but is also Filipino. When he came to Eastern for school, he was exposed to American culture too. 

As well as being a technology student, Ignalaga also enjoys playing soccer with the EIU soccer pickup team on campus. 

As for the World Cup, he agrees to the sport being called the world’s game. One of the reasons why he said he liked it is because it brings attention to the cultures that are participating in the tournament. Considering only a select few are able to participate, it is very intriguing to watch and be invested in the game. 

“It’s about unity,” he said. “It’s about being together and just enjoying it, and it doesn’t matter where you are from. You don’t have to speak a language to play the game.

Ignalana enjoys learning about other cultures. He mentioned how growing up, he celebrated many of the Middle Eastern holidays like Ramadan and EID, which is the Festival of Sweets is the earlier of the two official holidays celebrated within Islam. He also enjoyed his fair share of Filipino food and considering he knows five different languages, he feels it is very important to have students be educated in other worlds, and not just their own and he welcomes anyone interested with open arms. 

“We are all students at the end of the day, but we would love for you guys to be a part of our celebrations as much as you guys allow us to be a part of yours,” Ignalana said. “I think the biggest thing is that we want to make you guys feel included as well.”

Although Ignalaga invites others to learn about each other’s cultures, he does have a confession. 

For a long time, he struggled to find out who he was with all these life experiences. 

“I’m a person that grew up in Bahrain, and at the same time, I feel like being exposed to Filipino culture can be a little weird because, you know, I’ve always grown up with Middle Eastern culture and seeing Filipino culture can make me feel like a stranger in my own home, if that makes any sense,” Ignalaga said. 

But despite his internal cultural battle, Ignalaga believes that he is not just who is his by blood, but his life experiences, and how everything has shaped him into the person he is today. 

“I’d rather be seen for who I am as an individual than who I belong to,” Ignalaga said. 

So, then who exactly is Kyle Ignalaga?

“I’m just a Filipino international student who has been exposed to various cultures in the Middle East and in Asia,” Ignalaga said. “I’m someone who does technology, plays soccer, and lives his life with no regrets.”


Adriana Hernandez-Santana can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].