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

Chapman

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!

Skiing/Snowboarding? Sure!

Skiing/Snowboarding? Sure!

At the beginning of this spring 2013 semester, the Association of International Students (AIS) took some of its members to a nearby ski resort in northeast Ohio to put all that snow we’ve been getting to good use. A total of 16 international students went on this trip. Snow Trails in Mansfield was the destination. … Read more

Some of the AIS members at Snow Trails in Mansfield, OH.

At the beginning of this spring 2013 semester, the Association of International Students (AIS) took some of its members to a nearby ski resort in northeast Ohio to put all that snow we’ve been getting to good use.

A total of 16 international students went on this trip. Snow Trails in Mansfield was the destination.

Some of the students who went on this ski trip were relatively skilled; coming from European nations or from Japan, where snow and skiing is a common thing. Coming from tropical Malaysia, I was a little less prepared.

I think the smartest thing to do for a first-timer at a ski resort is to take up skiing. I decided to be a little less smart and took up snowboarding instead.

It was amazing!

It always looked so easy when you see people doing it in movies. It looked effortless when I watched the Winter X-Games on TV the night before. But let me be the first to admit that Shawn White made me think snowboarding was too easy. That did not help me when I had to do the actual thing. So I fell. I fell once, twice and maybe thirty times. All that in my first hour of snowboarding, mind you.

After about five hours of falling, with some snowboarding, I was aching all around.

This trip was just one of the many things that the AIS does to take the students away from their daily routines and escape into a different world. One of the goals of AIS is to take the international students, as well as any American students who wish to join, out for different activities. We all know the value of a getaway from the stress of school and work.

International Culinary Experience Like No Other.

International Culinary Experience Like No Other.

In the late 1980s, Harold Hall, who at that time was serving as director of international recruitment, organized a small gathering for the international students of Mount Union College to get together and enjoy food from the different countries they came from. The students cooked food from their respective countries and brought it to the … Read more

AIS members

In the late 1980s, Harold Hall, who at that time was serving as director of international recruitment, organized a small gathering for the international students of Mount Union College to get together and enjoy food from the different countries they came from. The students cooked food from their respective countries and brought it to the gathering to share with their peers. Each year, due to the increase in international student admissions, the gathering got bigger. Soon, the international students brought guests to the gathering.

Close to 30 years after that first gathering, the International Dinner is now organized by the Association of International Students (AIS). The event is held annually and has been a collaboration between AIS and the University of Mount Union’s food service provider, AVI Foodsystems.

This year’s International Dinner featured three festivals as its theme – Lunar New Year from China, Pongal from India and Day of the Dead from Mexico. Tables were decorated with paper dragons, which were hand-made by AIS members, chalk drawings (done with color pencil this time) and hand-painted mini skulls. The skulls were not as intimidating as I had expected. Being colored so extensively, they actually look… nice.

This year, the food represented countries including Greece, Romania, Thailand and Jamaica.

Greek Salad – Greece (for obvious reasons)

Stuffed Mushrooms – Italy/America

Pad Thai – Thailand (again, for obvious reasons)

Jerk Chicken – Jamaica

Ciorba Soup – Romania

Chocolate Fondue – France/Switzerland

The performances during the dinner were by Mount Union’s very own international students. The night featured singing and dancing and ended with a traditional Japanese dance called “So-Ran Bushi.” The traditional dance was performed by the Japanese students of Mount Union and depicts ocean waves and the tasks of fishermen.

It was a great night and I couldn’t help but feel relieved. Planning this with the other executive board members of AIS was stressful. At the end of the day, it was worth all the time spent. I had the opportunity to meet some great people from the Alliance community and also faculty members.

Now that this is over, I can finally eat, sleep and BREATHE normally again.

Which makes me wonder… what’s next for AIS? Wait and see.

Around the World with Food.

Have you ever wondered how food tasted in different regions of the world? I certainly have! These past few weeks have been pretty stressful for the Association of International Students (AIS). Each year, the AIS hosts the International Dinner in the Kresge Dining Commons. It is that time of the year again. The dinner falls … Read more

Have you ever wondered how food tasted in different regions of the world? I certainly have!

These past few weeks have been pretty stressful for the Association of International Students (AIS). Each year, the AIS hosts the International Dinner in the Kresge Dining Commons. It is that time of the year again. The dinner falls on Saturday, November 10 this year. With only less than a week remaining, the planning committee is starting to feel the heat.

What is the International Dinner, you ask? The International Dinner is a themed dinner where guests get to feast on dishes from around the world, as prepared by our very own AVI. The dinner also features performances from Mount Union’s own international and local students. The dinner is a great opportunity for members of Mount Union and Alliance to experience different cultures from around the world.

The dinner menu is carefully selected by members of the AIS executive board and will feature food from different regions of the world. This year’s menu features dishes from East Europe, South East Asia, and the Caribbean. The international students will also be helping AVI prepare some of the ingredients before the dinner. But do not worry; it will be the chefs of AVI who does the actual cooking. I would tell you more about the food, but doing so will only ruin the surprise.

Some of the students will also perform during the dinner. I can tell you for sure, that there will be a traditional Japanese performance during the dinner. It is a great opportunity for students to showcase their talents and their native culture with the community. Did I mention that some of the international students will be dressing up in traditional outfits?

Even though planning this dinner is no easy task, I do enjoy doing it. Being one who is very proud of my foreign status, this is also a chance for me to create a platform for all international students to share their culture with the whole community. This is part of the “bridging the gap” goal that I had mentioned earlier in my introductory blog post. This being my last year at Mount Union, I also want to leave, as they say, “with a bang.”

Just in case you were wondering, you can reserve a spot for the International Dinner during lunch and dinner hours in front of the cafeteria or call the Center for Global Education at (330) 823-3296.

Tickets for adults are priced at $10, students at $8 and children under 12-years old at $5.

With all that being said, I guess all I really have to say is “SEE YOU THERE!”