Give international students a chance

by Tori Hahn, Staff Columnist

It’s no secret that international students flock to palm tree-studded and sunshine-suffocated San Diego State to live out their study abroad dreams. But their expectations may fall short when the American students of SDSU seem less interested in them than they might have hoped.

The students who attend classes full-time at SDSU carry on with their days, pretending not to notice the exchange students at all. The international students sit in the same classes and eat at the same dining halls, yet they’re still not openly welcomed into the San Diego culture.

Full-time students at this university are missing out by not getting to know the international students on campus.

The SDSU study abroad program, which boasts of offering education in more than 50 countries, gives students at the university the chance to meet people from all over the world. So why are they not taking advantage of it?

It’s not because they aren’t given the opportunity. SDSU implements various programs to assimilate international students into the campus culture. The university allows incoming international students to apply for on-campus housing, advertises International Student Association social activities and events, hosts a Study Abroad Fair and even provides a Peer Mentor Program.

But no matter how many exciting programs SDSU implements, full-time students still don’t invest their time in international students.

SDSU student Ariana Frayer said being a senior makes her less motivated to branch out from her own established friend groups to meet international students.

“I don’t think I’m … open to making a bunch of new friends that I know, in necessity, will just go back and I won’t have contact with them anymore,” Frayer said.

Both student groups have different goals for their time at SDSU.

International students visit San Diego hoping to experience the culture and people of America, while full-time students aim to get an education and have fun with their pre-existing friend groups. Getting to know people from different countries for a few months before they return home isn’t exactly on the typical SDSU student’s agenda.

Full-time SDSU student Codey Lombardi discussed the cultural divide that makes friendships with international students difficult.

“There’s almost so much that they have to catch up on before we can call ourselves friends and actually get to know them, before we can learn about their culture,” Lombardi said.

He expressed how difficult it may be to relate to students who aren’t from America and don’t share the same interests.

On the other hand, international student Murdo Mackinnon of Glasgow, Scotland said expectations for his study abroad experience were exceeded, thanks to his American friends who attend SDSU full-time.

“By the end of my year I had a total bromance going on with my American roommate,” Mackinnon said. “It was definitely the people that made it such a great experience.”

Hopefully all international students can walk away from their time at SDSU with the same experience. All it takes is full-time students stepping out of their comfort zone with an open mind.

And for those who can’t afford the time or money it takes to study abroad, meeting international students is a perfect way to learn about other cultures without ever leaving San Diego. Students who attend classes on this same campus, year after year at SDSU, can get a similar learning experience by spending time with international students.

SDSU students should take the opportunity to accept and embrace new cultures. People from around the world can offer a fresh perspective and might even motivate people to re-evaluate their own lives.