Going to an entirely different country to live in may cause culture shock and take some adapting, but it can also provide new experiences and open eyes.
“My idea of U.S. was like Hollywood movies,” she said. “Very busy, very modern. But it’s not here (in Anderson). Which is good. It’s different than where I come from.”
Tan said she’s adapted to the culture and that being here has taught her to “slow down and enjoy life.”
Tan, who is from Beijing, believes that big-city residents are more selfish.
“People truly care about each other and give back to community (here),” she said. “City people don’t do that.”
She said she thought it would be fun to come to the U.S. to be closer to friends.
“Everything is accessible. Easy. Fast. Convenient,” she said. “I liked it.”
[Photo: AU international student Celeste Burricks.]
While Tan mentioned Americans being more expressive and touchy-feely, like doling out hugs, Burricks said the personal bubble in Africa is smaller.
In Cape Town, she said people “just bump into each other, not a big deal.”
While Mounds Mall is small with few people, Indianapolis’ “kind of felt like going home.”
“I like being around lots of people,” she said.
Cindy Sprunger, director of International Student Services, said she expects to see that number to increase.
“Word of mouth has a lot to do with it, the experience here,” she said.
Both Tan and Burricks said AU has a family-like environment that made them feel welcome and comfortable.
But the university hasn’t just made an impact on the students’ lives. The students have affected the university, as well. Sprunger said the students really get involved on campus and in the community. For example, some are participating in Operation Love and have adopted a single mother and her children for whom to purchase gifts this holiday season.
“They’re very good about getting out there and integrating,” Sprunger said.
Once a semester, the international students have a big dinner where they make foods from their countries and give presentations.
And Sprunger said the perspectives they share provide some insight that professors may not be able to give, helping to broaden the worldview for those who may not get the opportunity to travel outside of the country.
When Burricks first got to AU, she said, other students were interested in her after hearing her accent.
She said she enjoyed answering their questions and being able to teach them about her culture.
“They love to share their world,” Sprunger said.
Having lived in East Africa for seven years, Sprunger has witnessed another culture first-hand, and she believes it’s important to broaden perspectives.
— Dani Palmer is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story reposted with permission. Photo credit: Don Knight.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.