Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One of the Best Things About College

Lately, I've been working on an article for The Defender about conversation partners, which is when American students pair up with international students in order to learn about each other's cultures and help the international student study English.  As a student at St. Mike's, I've had the privilege of becoming not a conversation partner, but a friend to a few international students.  One of the best things about college is you never know who you'll meet - or where they come from.
I've been friends with another student named Riko since freshman year.  Riko comes from New Zealand, but she has family ties to Japan so she is often conversing with many of the Japanese exchange students. Riko is what you can call a genius. She is 17 and a junior in college, but you'd never know it because of the maturity she emulates.  Riko has become one of my best friends in college, and we can talk about basically anything normal friends talk about.  The difference is, however, that she has a huge understanding of three different cultures now and she is constantly teaching me new things.  A few weeks ago, I was in her room and she pulled out a Japanese "Seventeen" magazine.  "Seventeen" is very popular in America as many girls get advice on hair styles, make-up, clothes, relationships and more from it.  Looking at a Japanese version, I was able to learn a lot about their culture and what the gender roles are like as well the way men and women are portrayed through their media.  I was surprised to find that one of their fashions, as Riko translated for me, was called "American Casual".  Riko said it is very fashionable in Japan for girls to wear jeans and a t-shirt and successfully "pull off" the look!  Here in America, it is very common to wear jeans and a t-shirt every day and not think anything of it.
Riko and me playing with photobooth on my computer!

Last year, I also became good friends with Mai who is from Osaka, Japan.  Even though she was at St. Mike's to study for only a year, we still keep in touch via skype and send regular messages to each other via Facebook.  She was a wonderful person to get to know and I really treasure the bond that we formed.  I learned a lot from hanging out with both Riko and Mai, including onomatopoeias in Japanese ("peta peta peta") and facts about Japanese food, culture, and music.  I even learned how to make paper cranes from them, which is a beautiful and very complicated art form (I was definitely not good at it).
Me and Mai last year on Halloween.  A bit of a switch of
cultures since I'm dressed as a Pokemon character
(Japanese) and she's dressed as Little Red Riding Hood (American).
This year, I have another friend named Rui from Tokyo, Japan.  I have just started to get to know her, but we are becoming fast friends.  Rui asked to hang out with my group of friends because she thought it would be a better way to learn English.  I really hope that we will be able to form a lasting friendship as well as learn from each other and about each other's culture until she has to leave in December.
Rui and Riko on a recent outing to Burlington! 
Students do not need a conversation partner program if they want to get to know international students on a more personal basis, though it most certainly helps those international students who want to perfect their English skills.  I have learned so much from the few international students I have gotten to know, and I hope to get to know more students during these last two years that I have at St. Mike's.  I think some students forget that getting to know international
students is a very valuable and worthwhile experience.  Who knows?  You may even find a life-long friend.  I love my international friends just as much as I love my American friends, and I am so glad I to have the opportunity to meet people from so many different backgrounds.
If you have any questions regarding international students or my life as a student at St. Mikes, please feel free to email me at


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  2. Really very beautiful pictures. I think you got lots of time in college having fun in.
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