Friends from faraway places

Jenna Viets


Coming to college in the heart of the Deep South, the last thing I expected Troy to have was a healthy international program.

How surprised and delighted I was when I arrived and learned that our study abroad opportunities are abundant and accessible and that our university has locations across the globe.

I walk across the quad and hear people speaking German, Chinese, Italian, French, Dutch and Portuguese. Just on our campus, I’ve met people from over 30 countries. Some have become good friends of mine whom I am going to stay in touch with and visit, even after they move back across the world.

My international relationships have had a huge impact on me, and through them my perspective of the world has been broadened so much. They’ve introduced me to so many different cultures without having to leave Troy.

I’ve heard many students express their desire to get to know international students but say they don’t know how to go about it. Here are a few of the ways I’ve found to do this at Troy.

The Troy Study Abroad Club was founded in the fall of 2016. The club connects international students in Troy and Americans interested in studying abroad (or just traveling) and promotes study abroad programs.

With events like speed-friending, tailgates and beach days, this is a fun way to get to know students from across the world. To keep up with its events, join the Facebook group.

Tea for Troy is every other Thursday at 7 p.m., where internationals and Americans gather to hear students give presentations about the tea traditions in home countries and afterward mingle and share a cuppa, or a cup of tea. The casual atmosphere lends itself to meeting new people.

Conversation Partners is a program that pairs an American student with an international student so they can get together once a week and talk to improve the international student’s English conversational skills, foster an exchange of cultures and build friendships.

Pace Hall is a great place for simply spending time with international students in an international dorm. Students can travel the globe without leaving Troy.

Just talk. I met my closest international friend in line at Einstein’s one afternoon. I heard her German accent and introduced myself, and we hit it off immediately. She came home with me for Thanksgiving and was a big part of my freshman year. We still keep in touch; in fact, she sent me a card the other day and may be coming through Troy to visit later this month.

Meeting international students doesn’t have to be intimidating or difficult. Largely, it’s just about putting yourself out there and taking the initiative to reach out and get out of your comfort zone.

Most international students are eager to get to know Americans. That’s why they’re here: to experience a different culture, improve their English and meet new people.

So seize this opportunity, get out there and make some friends from far places.

Jenna Viets is a junior communication major from Dothan. 

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