Where are all my international buddies at? Well, according to last week’s edition of the Trinitonian, nine percent of this year’s incoming first years are from countries other than the U.S., with 33 different nations represented by that body of students. Trinity is quite simply a melting pot of different cultural backgrounds, and our campus is all the better for this.
Multicultural diversity teaches tolerance and understanding, and it leads to less discrimination as people are educated about those different from themselves and celebrate their differences. Trinity is wonderful in this regard.
But it’s not all fun and games for us internationals in San Antonio. There are some situations that might leave you confused and unsure of what to do, and I think it’s only right to warn you about them.
Trinity’s International Student Services department does a wonderful job of helping with the official side of being a foreign student here””from the paperwork to all the visa nonsense that we struggle through””but there are things they can’t tell you. These are things that you have to experience to understand. And a year after arriving here, I feel it’s time to pass on this information to the new international students. So here goes: my International Student Survival Guide for fall 2014.
Firstly, people will struggle with your name. It will be mispronounced and you will have to spell it out a THOUSAND TIMES. I’ve been called everything from Caleb to Cameron, Connor to Collins and once even Casper. But eventually, people will get it right. Be patient! Furthermore, people will assume that because you’re not from America, you live in a dark cave without any concept of civilisation. My RM last year warned me that I might not have seen the film we were watching for movie night as it was “an American movie about a fish.” Needless to say, I’d seen “Finding Nemo” before. But it’s quite endearing that Los Americanos want to share their culture with you, as they often don’t realise the global influence their country’s popular culture has.
Speaking of sharing cultures, you will be centre of attention at times just because you’re not American. This is often nice as you are able to share some of your background with those around you, though you should be prepared to be stereotyped and asked questions that relate to these stereotypes. It’s often funny to see how your country is reflected on the world stage, but being asked, “Are there trees in London?” was somewhat strange. Thankfully, it only happened once. However, you can use this to your advantage; some Americans are quite gullible.
I’ve sold it to a few people that I was an original member of One Direction and my Australian friend Jesus was able to convince some unsuspecting Americans that he legitimately owned a kangaroo and rode it to his high school every day.
The biggest hurdle you will have to face is people mocking your accent. It’s often meant nicely, and it may not even be deliberate, but people will attempt to repeat what you say back to you in your accent.
And the attempts are usually awful.