By Cindy Nguyen
As an international student living on campus, there is one thing I like about FDU Metropolitan: the salad bar at the SUB dining hall.
Salad creates the scope for endless possibilities with its diversity in ingredients and recipes. There’s no limit to how a salad is served: it all comes down to how the cook combines different food components. Mix greens with fresh beets, asparagus, goat cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing and voilà, you have a French country salad for an appetizer. Thinly sliced chicken breast and spring onions, chopped up herbs, and juice of a fresh lemon make for an amazing entrée of Chinese chicken salad.
I can go on, still there can never be too many ways to serve and enjoy a salad. It’s been five weeks since my first day here, and the salad bar at the SUB still catches my eye. As the foodie I am, it thrilled me to discover the same diversity in many aspects of the FDU experience.
As one of the largest international student bodies in the area, FDU’s multicultural environment makes it much easier for international students to adapt and thrive. I was quick to expand my social network by making friends from different parts of the world and participate in events and activities.
The university also has a team of competent and friendly staff whose guidance since day one enables my interactive, international, intercultural and interdisciplinary experience. International Student Services (ISS) does a great job in assisting me with important papers and procedural issues, while the Metro Writing Center improves my English writing skills to keep up with local students and achieve the maximum academic results.
My experiences as an international student has overall been positive, and salad is always my go-to from breakfast to dinner. Overcoming homesickness and cultural differences is a different story. I have learned that here, “Nice to meet you,” “Let’s hang out some day,” or “See you soon,” are the type of greetings that don’t have any strings attached.
On my first day of school at FDU a girl asked me how I was doing, but when I replied I wasn’t feeling good, she just went on as if she had never asked. This struck me because “How are you?” means, “I want to know how you really are” in Vancouver, where I came from.
It dawned on me that local students are nice, but getting to know them personally is another story. People rush to class, mind their own business, and rush right out when the class ends. I learned that being someone’s classmate doesn’t necessarily mean I am their good friend whom they will seek out for advice.
German Quesida, an exchange student from Costa Rica, has a similar experience.
Quesida said, “It is easier for me to befriend other international students than Americans even though they are all friendly. My non-US-born friends are interested in hearing my stories. So they ask a lot of questions and I feel more comfortable to share my stories with them. I think it’s a bit harder to find a native speaker who wants to know me more than a superficial way and who asks, “Where are you from?” or “What brought you here?” instead of a typical, “How are you?”
Indeed, there are local students who genuinely want to know more about the international students’ backgrounds and life in their home country. What sets the U.S. from other countries is that it is more the exception than the norm.
Cultural shock aside, I have had good learning experiences at FDU as an international student and would love to have a taste of everything at the salad bar.