A Foreigner’s Guide: Surviving a Break on Campus

A Foreigner’s Guide: Surviving a Break on Campus

I am an international student. I am also a senior. That means that, at some point in my years here at Mount Union, I have spent some breaks on campus. Let me tell you this, it is quite an ordeal. There are also only a handful of things you can do at Mount Union during … Read more


I am an international student. I am also a senior. That means that, at some point in my years here at Mount Union, I have spent some breaks on campus. Let me tell you this, it is quite an ordeal.

There are also only a handful of things you can do at Mount Union during the break. The gym has limited operating hours; shorter than that of the normal school days. The library hours are even more limited than the gym; making it hard for students to even make full use of it.

Don’t get me wrong, this is no rant. I am merely stating the living conditions for an international student during a break.

Just thinking about how to keep yourself well fed is another problem.

While the city of Alliance has an abundance of fast food restaurants, those surrounding the campus are only limited to Arby’s, Taco Bell, and Sheetz; three of which would not be the first choice for many students.

During breaks, long or short, the cafeteria closes. That would be acceptable if you really think about it. There will be very few students on campus and it would take more staff members to prepare the food than the number of people they are providing for. However, I strongly believe that the closure of the B&B Cafe during the break is very uncalled for.

Yes, this is the part where people try to tell me that there are many delivery services where I can get food delivered to my doorstep. That is true, but restaurants that deliver are basically pizza places and Chinese restaurants. Besides, wouldn’t you get bored eating fast food all week? Coming from a culture where most meals are home-made, seven days of fast food is equivalent to living on oatmeal.

While most students will be away, some remain; along with faculty members and staff. The B&B should be kept open to give students who choose to remain on campus an option. There are many places that students can go to get food in Alliance, but most international students do not have cars to take them there. I am one of the lucky few.

Here are some things an international student can do to survive the break (according to my experience before getting a car):

1. If you live in an apartment/townhouse, have a friend bring you grocery shopping.

- STOCK UP so that you can cook all break.

2. While you are essentially on break, operating hours for the gym and the library are limited.

- It is advisable to wake up before lunch so that you could get a nice workout or get some school work done in the library (if you need the books).

3. Start a project. Pick up some kind of activity to occupy your time.

- I made a dual-layer blanket. Other suggestions are knitting and a 10,000 piece puzzle.

4. Take a walk around campus with your camera.

- While not everyone will own a DSLR camera or have an interest in photography, realize that one day you will look back and realize that you did not take many pictures of our beautiful campus. Any camera, even your cell phone, will do. Create memories.

5. Find campus employment.

- There are several departments on campus that remain in operation throughout the break. If you are a communications student, the radio station in HPCC may have openings for you. Other places to look for employment are the library and the gym.

6. Find other students who are living on campus to hang out with.

- There may be other students on campus who did not go on a vacation during the break. Keep in touch with them and maybe plan something fun.

7. When all else fails, there is always studying class material to get ahead of the class.

It is becoming more common for international students these days to find a place to go to over the break. Some even have community friends or host families that take them away during the break. But if you find yourself stuck on campus during a break, go through numbers one to seven and see if anything works for you. They have worked for me and I am already a senior. That’s saying something!

Steps to get along in an international community.

Steps to get along in an international community.

Read more

I’ve been here in the United States for just a little under two years. In my time here at the University of Mount Union, I have been actively involved with anything that pertains to the international committee. That means that I have met a lot of international students and teaching assistants. I guess this is my way of belonging. I wanted international students to not only get along with one another, but to build friendships with their American peers as well. We all know that this takes both sides to make it work.

In my short time here at Mount Union, I have seen friendships formed and sadly, alienation. Everything feels great when everyone gets along, but when it doesn’t, it really ruins the atmosphere. I think (and hope) that this can be fixed, or at least prevented in the near future.

There are certain things that one should take note of when trying to blend in with the students from different nationalities.

1.  Disregard all history between any nations.

I have seen, firsthand, foreign students who come here with a certain distaste for students from a particular nation due to the history between their nations. Honestly, I think that is just absolutely absurd. Things that had happened before you were born should not have an influence on you when you meet new people from different countries. Especially when we are all foreign students here in the USA. The world is, in many ways but not all, a better place now. Keep an open mind.

2.  What’s happening now, is just politics.

Even if there are some problems between the nations at the moment, being here in the USA is like being on neutral ground. Do not bring political tensions over here because that just makes situations worse. Regardless of what’s happening, bringing the argument here in the USA does not help situations back home in any case whatsoever. Keep an open mind.

3.  Stereotypes are bad… unless they’re true.

Do not take my title seriously. I have come to realize that there are just some stereotypes that are inevitably true. Even I admit to some stereotypes at times. However, one should always avoid using stereotypes to pick on people. Some may laugh it off, but some may be more sensitive to it than others. I think joking among friends is alright to a certain extent, but remember that once you take it too far, you are jeopardizing your relationship with that person. In any case, if someone says something stereotypical about you, laugh it off and be the better person. Keep an open mind.

4.   Realize that the world is much bigger than you.

Everyone is proud of their heritage and where they come from. But that does not mean that you should shove it down someone else’s throat. It is good that you are very proud of where you come from, but others may think the same of their own heritage. The world would be a better place and better friendships would come from it if only everyone could keep an open mind.

5.  Don’t spread the hate.

So you can’t get along with some people. Don’t go around trying to influence people. Don’t deliberately tell people about the conflicts so that people may take your side and turn on the other. Stay away but don’t spread the hate. Keep an open mind.

6.  When all fails, remove yourself from any undesirable situation.

If you really cannot get along, then do not put yourself in a situation where you would have to interact with them. As president of the Association of International Students, I strongly urge everyone to not resolve things with this step. But if it means having a more peaceful campus where American and foreign students coexist in harmony (like that melting pot people in USA and back home in my Malaysia speak of), then please just do not go looking for trouble. If you don’t like them, don’t see them. But keep an open mind.

These are just some of my thoughts from observing, for the past year or so, how international students interact with one another and with American students. Some may not see things to be as bad as I may have made it sound, but I am just very alert to relations and communications between people of different cultures and backgrounds. I am a communication student after all.

At the end of the day, the one most important thing for one to do to get along with people that are different from them is to keep an open mind.

Fall Foliage

Fall Foliage

Read more

It’s prime time of the Fall season. The air is brisk, leaves crunching, pumpkin patches are blossoming, football is in full action, and warm apple cider compliments your seasonal sweater and scarves. Autumn is a very popular season, and even though school can get in the way make sure you take some time to watch the trees change color. Photography has grown into a small hobby of mine, and the changing colors make for the perfect shot. Some of the trees on campus create such a contrasting color, that it makes me wonder how do these leaves create such vibrant colors to begin with? I went to my brother who works at the Urban Ecology Center for some advice, and he directed me to one of his blog posts

“Lianna Bishop from the Urban Ecology Center tells us that Fall is a season known for trees full of beautiful shades of reds, oranges and yellows. But, you may be wondering, why do leaves change color in the fall?  Do trees change to the same color every year?  Our team here at the Urban Ecology Center have been thinking a lot about fall foliage lately. One of our Environmental Educators, Matt Flower, helped fill us in!

The brilliant colors of fall happen when the production of chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants associated with photosynthesis, slows down. As the days get shorter and the nights grow longer, the leaves’ true yellow, red or orange color is exposed.

Weather can also affect the way these colors look during their fall show. The best leaf colors seem to occur after warm, clear days with cool (but not freezing) nights – just like the type of weather we’ve been having lately. No wonder the trees have been so stunning!

Matt helped identify each tree and its respective color: Silver Maples are a light yellow, Green Ash a glowing purple, Shagbark Hickory a golden yellow and Sugar Maple a red-orange. Try picking out your favorite tree near your home, work, or school and watch its colors change over time.”

As the days grow shorter and cooler, I hope you’ll get outside and enjoy nature’s multicolored farewell to the season. Also, check out these creative and intense photos of leaves for some inspiration, and check out this awesomely autumnal song.


Families Don’t Always Share The Same Genes

Families Don’t Always Share The Same Genes

Read more

At Mount Union, the word family is a defying characteristic. When you think of the word family you often think of your mom or dad, an aunt or uncle, basically someone who is related to you genetically. However, the word family can represent a group of people who are in no way connected genetically. They didn’t come from the same town, same high school or even the same state. The word family simply connects the group of people through the strong bonds formed between each person and the valuable relationship they all share. The term family applies to the Mount Union campus in many ways as the campus as a whole is one big family made up of many intertwining families. These intertwining families possess their own special characteristics, which make them unique and set them apart from the others. Some examples of intertwining families are Greek life, residence life, student-led organizations and each grade level themselves. One intertwining family that is especially important to me is the Delta Sigma Tau sorority family, which is apart of the Greek life family.

As you probably know from my biography, I am an active sister in the Delta Sigma Tau sorority. To me, my sorority is my family – my home away from home. This past week in the sorority was “I” week, also known as initiation week, in which many new ladies became sisters of the sorority. Just as the Delta Sigma Tau family is a sub-family of the Greek life family, there are also sub-families in the Delta Sigma Tau sorority. The families in Delta Sigma Tau are made up of active sisters taking a new little each fall during initiation. Last Thursday, during “I” week, one of these new babies joined my family by becoming my little. A little is somewhat like a child or little sister. Taking a little is a process that many sisters in sororities and brothers in fraternities take part in at least once during the time they spend as active members. As I am only a sophomore, this was the first little that I have taken. My little is Alyssa Betro, a freshman at Mount Union.

Becoming a big is something special that cannot be fully understood until taking part in the process. It comes with many new responsibilities, experiences and opportunities. It gives you the chance to help someone and guide him or her through the college years. It gives you the chance to always be there for someone and make him or her know that he or she is never alone. It gives you the chance to create an unbreakable bond with someone based on love and friendship. It gives you the chance to make a difference. Becoming a big is truly a wonderful experience that I would not trade for the world.