On being international

Pittsburgh + Malaysian pride, Fall 2011

Living in a country as an international student never ceases to be entertaining because people are generally entertained by you. Foreign things will always intrigue us; be it someone from a different country, a silent person speaking up in class or simply White Castle’s chicken rings (I really want to try them even though it’s just chicken in onion ring form). I wonder how bored (or not) exchange students with a distinctly different accent get of receiving the “Where are you from?” question upon speaking a mere few sentences like the ones required in explaining a paper jam situation in which I recently encountered with an Irish student.

With my return to tanah air a mere 6 weeks away, I’ve been thinking of how I can share my close to 2 years experience of being away from home and American college student life. Where would I begin? What is worth sharing and what is mundane? How do I share sporadic stories that will fit together with the puzzle back home that I have worked on only minimally in the past two years? Let me know your ideas.

A summary of my experience as an international student in the US (specifically in Kent, OH):

1. You become the go-to person for foreign cultural questions in class/social settings.

2. You become the go-to person for the pronunciation of random words in your native language that come up in class readings.

3. You are treated with great caution for the fear of offending you/your culture.

4. You receive some really ignorant questions.

5. You wonder how often it is when people say “Ooohhh” upon hearing your country of origin that they really know where it is or if that’s the only response they know how to give because they honestly had no idea that your country existed and/or where it is geographically.

6. You are giggled at for being very excited about snow.

7. You never want to eat another slice of pizza/hamburger/turkey sandwich when you go home.


2 thoughts on “On being international

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