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Brazil student adjusts to BG

Going to college is a huge adjustment for students and for some, it involves adjusting to a new culture.

For Isabel Souza, who is from Brazil, the adjustment is learning how to live in the American culture.

Souza has been at the University for a month and had spent the previous five months at the University of New Orleans.

While Bowling Green isn’t exactly the same as New Orleans, Souza has learned to adjust.

“I’m here, in [the] United States … for six months. Before I came here, I was in New Orleans, studying English. [New Orleans] is really bigger, bigger than here,” Souza said. “When I knew that I would have to come here, I was like ‘oh my gosh, where is it?’ I didn’t know about BG— it’s a small city and all of the country parts of the United States … But I’ve been enjoying it so far.”

Souza is here until the end of the spring semester as an architecture major. Here to learn English, Souza has enjoyed her time at the University and in Bowling Green.

When an international student agrees to attend the University, their experience starts before they even get into the country.

Andrea Voogd, the assistant director of International Student Services [ISS] says the office does a lot to prepare students who are coming to the University.

ISS has information for students on their website and when students are admitted, they get a packet that includes information about the city and the University, MyBGSU, immigration and medical documents and housing, among other papers.

When students arrive at the University, they are required to attend an orientation, which is a full day of programming.

“It gives them information that sometimes American students might take for granted,” Voogd said. “International students don’t know, like for an example, we talk about the Bursar all the time. That’s kind of a strange name for the place where you pay your bill. We have to tell them that up front. They don’t understand that they have free access to the Recreation Center. The American education system is much different than other education systems.”

While international students are assimilating into the American culture, students are also reminded not to lose who they truly are.

“One of the speakers that come is from another country. He talks about being true to their accent. He says yes, please learn to speak better every day, but be true to your own accent,” Voogd said. “And that’s kind of a figurative thing he’s saying, yeah, assimilate to the American culture, but preserve your own and be proud of it. That’s why international students are so enriching to our campus — they bring different perspectives and different cultures.”

While Souza is in the U.S., she is also learning about the American culture.

“I’m almost an American— I’ve been here six months. The culture is kind of different from Brazil. The people here are the same, but in Brazil, we’re warm with the people,” Souza said. “But I’m enjoying here because I also like the space people give to each other and I like the American food and American music. It’s different from Brazil, but good.”

While senior Cara Treece hasn’t had firsthand experience with international students, she thinks, “It’s great. They have those opportunities to go here, or anywhere, honestly.”

Treece hasn’t really spoken to international students, but she has talked to students who have studied abroad and knows how the students who have done so come back feeling more well-rounded.

Domestic students who wish to get involved with the international students can do so by getting involved with the Cross Cultural Conversation Club, Global Village or volunteering with ISS.

International students who wish to get involved within the community have the chance to by participating in the International Friendship program and Global Connections, Voogd said.

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