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International Students Segregated?

Yana Nadelyaeva

One of the good things about Long Island University is that it accepts students from all over the world and gives them the opportunity to study together and international connections. Students can become acquainted with each other’s cultures and traditions, explore new mentalities and lifestyles, and exchange ideas, opinions and views on different subjects. It is abundantly clear that students become educated not just during their class time, but also in their free time, communicating with other students from countries all over the world. But, unfortunately, on campus, international students appear to be noticeably segregated from American students.

Dasha Bazanova, a Russian Fine Arts major, agrees that there is international student segregation and that students from Sweden, Norway, Russia and other countries form their own small communities. However, she tries to communicate with everybody, regardless of one’s  nation of origin. Bazanova thinks that Americans are very welcoming and it’s very easy to talk with them and make friends, and she even feels uncomfortable speaking Russian here. She believes it’s better to form a community based on common interests, not on a common nation.

Bianca Rahimzadeh, a Swedish freshman Public Relations major, also notices International students to form their own communities. “I think there is so much segregation in this school and it’s crazy.” According to Rahimzadeh, it is because she and some other Swedish students came here in a group. “So, when we got here, we knew each other, and in unknown surroundings, it was more comfortable to speak with people who are from the same country as you are.” As they continued hanging out with the same people, “it could seem difficult for people not from this group to approach it and talk to you, because you are always sitting with 10 people of your nationality.” But Rahimzadeh adds that now she has more American friends than when she first came here and maybe it takes some time to form connections.

Nina Wikstol, an international student from Norway, also notices the trend. “I definitely think international students are segregated here at LIU Post, mostly because we have an orientation together where we are in the same program for a couple of days. We quickly find people that are in the same boat, and it is especially easy to talk to people from your own country. I think people with the same nationality tend to hang around each other because it feels safe. It’s always easy to cling to what is familiar. Also, a majority of people who live on campus are international students and it is often more difficult getting to know commuters as they don’t live next door or spend much time in Winnick.”

Azamat Doszhan, a Social Science and Anthropology major from Kazakhstan, said, “Before, I used to feel more segregation in terms of playing activities, like sports, soccer, but now it’s more question of ‘causality of mentality’. Doszhan said international students come here for school but also to meet new people. However, it can be easier to bond with those from your own country. “But later, you start communicating and hanging out with students from other countries as well.”

According to Frida Bengtsson, a Swedish freshman, one of the reasons for international student segregation is that “people want to be a part of their own culture at the same time as they are here, because it feels safer for them.” It’s just a question of common culture and mentality. As for Americans, Bengtsson considers them friendly enough, but “they have their life and we have our life, and it’s not interconnected, because most of them don’t live on campus and go home after classes while we stay here, on campus, where there are no places to go out and to relax in an informal atmosphere and make friends.”

As for the last statement, I absolutely agree. I think for making friendly connections with Americans just “common hour” on campus is not enough. What is needed is some relaxing place to go out after classes and talk informally, without thinking about your next class, assignments to do or a quiz to take. And that is what we don’t have on campus, because it’s quite isolated. Also, Going to the nearest shop or bar can be difficult and take some time because you have to wait for the bus or train. It’s a real problem if you don’t have your own car. Therefore, you have just small opportunities to exchange a couple of phrases with your American classmates before or after class (and then they go home and you are stay on campus). It’s definitely not enough to make friends with them. And during the weekends, the only way for you to go out is with people from your own country, who live here on campus in the same situation as you are in.

International student segregation seems to be because they make communities among themselves based on a common nationality and language and the forced separation between commuter and resident students. To tell the truth, it’s kind of frustrating, because international students all come here not just for pure studying, but also for improving our English and for communicating with American people and students from other countries, for knowing their culture, tradition, and lifestyle. All of this is also part of education and is what we are lacking.

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