As One World Week approaches, I’m reminded of just how many international students I’ve met during my time at Sussex. Back home, with a population of around 50,000 students, it’s much more difficult to come across those students who have come to Texas from far off places. I did have a chance to interact with some of them, but the ratio was nowhere near that of Sussex, where I’m told there are five thousand (if not more!) students and staff members from other countries and continents. That is an incredibly impressive number, given that the university has around 14,000 students in total.
When I first moved to the university, I didn’t know what to expect as far as housing was concerned. But when I found out that probably half of the students in my building were international students, I was quite surprised. I can’t deny that I was pretty happy about it. I’ve always really enjoyed hearing stories from other places, particularly if I’ve never been there, so I have gotten to learn a great deal from my new friends.
Our building has some of the funniest, most talented people I have ever met, and they’re all pretty wonderful, regardless of if they’re from the UK or somewhere else. We have several students from all over England, including one of the bravest people I have ever met, a founder of a Sussex society, several with jobs they work alongside attending university. Our block has representatives from several religions, and nobody is rude or unwelcoming to those who hold different beliefs to their own. We may have broken into groups as the year went on, but when together, it’s like a crazy, slightly dysfunctional, but all-around loving family. When students who were only around for a term visit or drop a note, everyone jumps in to say hello, and it’s like nothing at all has changed.
As far as international students go, I’m one of the many from the United States, though we are from all over the country, and only a couple of us knew each other before coming to Sussex. We’ve had a student from Thailand who loves Man United, another from Turkey who might be talented at literally everything, and a girl from Lebanon who is probably the single most caring person I’ve ever been lucky enough to call a friend. An Aussie who we are convinced could take on any of the guys in a fight and win, a Sociology student from the Netherlands, and a girl from California who attended school here last term and wants to work in medicine like her mother and sister. There are so many others I could mention here, but then I’d basically be writing an essay instead of a blog post, wouldn’t I? Needless to say, I could probably write that essay much quicker than the one I have due next week.
The point of One World Week is to recognize the fact that, no matter where students come from, they all want the same thing: To be successful and find their place in the world alongside everyone else. We may not all know exactly what that means for us yet, and the world might be insane right now, and incredibly scary. But studying abroad, attending university, making these new friends and connections – it all adds up to better chances in the future when we enter the real world.
One World Week takes place March 14-20 this year, with loads of activities every day, which can be seen here. I hope to see many of my friends there, and am looking forward to making many new ones as well.
Lindsay Howard is a 4th year International student from the University of Texas, Austin. She is studying an English major, with minors in Communications and Sociology.