Students and faculty members gathered to listen to international students share their experiences with culture shock during the year’s initial First Friday Culture Talks.
First Friday Culture Talks is a monthly event that allows people from all over the world to meet and discuss current issues, in the International Involvement Center. With such great diversity on campus, attendees could hear from students from the countries of South Korea, Nigeria, India, Nepal, Japan and Brazil.
The event was originally planned from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., but the large group that attended had such a great time meeting and learning about one another that they stayed until the library closed at 5 p.m.
The IIC wanted the first discussion to be a milder topic for students to be more comfortable talking to one another, so students chatted about the transition and adjustments they made when coming to the United States.
Talitha Santana Baez was the first student to speak about her experience with culture shock.
She came to Missouri from Curaçao three years ago and transferred to Northwest from North Central Missouri College last fall.
Before she came to the U.S., Santana Baez attended a class that would help her transition in the new country, but the class couldn’t prepare her for everything.
The biggest changes she faced included American food and mealtimes, the weather and punctuality. Being late is standard in Curaçao, but she quickly learned that tardiness is regrettable in the U.S.
“I don’t think it’s culture shock, but it’s a change in the way we are living,” Santana Baez said. “We’re living on other people’s property so we must adapt.”
Santana Baez said her experience has been completely different than what she expected, and she doesn’t know where her life would be if she hadn’t chosen Northwest.
Felipe Sato was another student that shared his experiences with culture shock that occurred long before he came to the U.S. Sato is Brazilian, but grew up in Japan after moving there when he was three years old. His first shock was the difference in language.
As a mixed individual, he knew he was different because he didn’t look like everyone else. There were only two other students in the entire school that weren’t 100 percent Japanese.
Thus, the biggest shock Sato had when moving to Northwest was seeing minorities and the rich diversity on campus.
Other students also expressed their biggest adjustments when moving to Northwest. Challenges they faced included making distance and temperature conversions, walking rather than using public transportation and using the left side rather than the right.
Some even had to get accustomed to seeing others hold doors for them.
A couple faculty members who spoke briefly were Cassandra Tavorn, the director of TRIO, and Juanita Simmons, the vice president of the Office of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion.
Tavorn had a welcoming message for all the international students.
“We are so glad you are all here because I firmly believe having you on campus is what makes Northwest so great,” Tavorn said.
Then, Simmons expressed her hopes to see them all soon.
“We want to see international students in DEI,” Simmons said. “We are here for you.”