The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The food, the smiles, the spirit: Exchange student culture shock

Photo+by+Shelby+Knowles%0AMichelle+Amory%2C+finance+junior%3B+Christian+Dahl%2C+business+graduate+student%2C+and+Francesca+Algie%2C+political+science+freshman%2C+are+involved+in+the+reciprocal+exchange+program.%0A%26%23160%3B
Photo by Shelby Knowles Michelle Amory, finance junior; Christian Dahl, business graduate student, and Francesca Algie, political science freshman, are involved in the reciprocal exchange program.  

The food is different, the people are friendly and school spirit is high — these are just some of the differences that international students experience when they study at Texas A&M.
Wednesday was Overseas Day — a way to introduce students to study abroad opportunities — but to the 5,571 international students who attend Texas A&M, their overseas experiences take place in Texas. Much of College Station’s culture is unique to those who study abroad here, but many international students seek this cultural difference to learn and grow.
Christian Dahl, a business graduate student from Norway, said Texas seemed like the perfect place from which to observe American culture.
“I wanted to do something in the States,” Dahl said. “I wanted to see something different and, I mean, Texas is just America on steroids — everything here is so, so American in a way.”
Michelle Amory, finance junior from the Netherlands, said just getting to see the United States was a plus, and College Station in particular was something she would never normally get to see.
Of all the things that are different between Texas and their home countries, some international students said the friendliness they encountered was the greatest surprise.
“The first few days I actually was suspicious because people were this nice,” Amory said. “I didn’t expect it at all and I’ve never experienced anything like it. If you ask for directions people will literally just walk you where you need to go, so that’s something that I’ve never had before.”
Natisha Sinha, economics graduate student from India, said the toughest challenge she faced was getting used to differences in food in America.
Dahl said eating out is a much more common event and something far different from his university in Norway.
“We don’t eat out almost at all compared to you guys,” Dahl said. “That changed drastically when you got here because everyone is going out and buying food. That’s like a vacation — you don’t need to make your food all the time.”
Francesca Algie, political science freshman from New Zealand, said she was surprised by the amount of school pride at A&M.
“At home there’s no pride anywhere,” Algie said. “It would be weird if you wore a T-shirt with the university name on it, and nobody does that. Here it’s weird if you don’t wear a maroon shirt. That’s something that’s really cool.”
International Student Services helps international students integrate into campus. Samantha Clement, senior international student advisor, said each student has a compulsory orientation designed to assist their transition into Texas life before they get to Texas A&M.
“Once our international students are admitted to the university, we require them to take an online orientation,” Clement said. “We include a lot of good information on what it will be like to travel here, what they may find different about being in the U.S., being in Texas and specifically we include a lot of information about Texas A&M, A&M culture and tradition.”
Dahl said studying abroad is all about meeting new people and experiencing something different.
“When you travel halfway around the world to study you want to see the people there as well and learn something about the culture other than just staring into school books and doing assignments all the time,” Dahl said.

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