Many colleges have a plethora of international students, most of which are studying abroad. There are so many opportunities to interact with individuals who hail from different nations. NKU is not an exception. I have five international students in my religion class. The BCM has an event every week for international students. I have so many awesome opportunities in front of me to befriend an international. But until these past couple of weeks, I have been “too busy” to make a new friend. I didn’t have any interest in reaching out to these individuals. It took an in-your-face kind of opportunity.
That opportunity landed three wonderful international students at my home for Thanksgiving. Yining is from China and she is studying at NKU for only a semester. Ayoung is from South Korea and she is studying the entire year at NKU. Mutlaq is from Saudi Arabia and he has been studying at NKU the past two years and will be graduating in December.
I learned from my incredible time with my new friends that everyone needs some international friendships in their lives. They brought so much happiness into my home on Thanksgiving and they will bring much more happiness in our lives as the years go on. These friendships will last even after they go home to their respective countries.
Besides gaining joy from my friends, I learned a lot about what it’s like to have international friends.
They are extremely grateful for friends. While at my home, they repeatedly expressed their gratitude and thankfulness for my family. They were very appreciative of everything we did for them and they made sure to thank us multiple times. We talked about future hang-outs even though we do not have much time in the States together. They long for American friends, in the same sense that we should for international friends.
They teach us new things. It is pretty obvious that we have a vast amount of differences in our cultures, giving an excellent opportunity to learn about their lives at home. I learned so much about their holiday seasons, their families, and so many other new cultural norms. It really is fun to hear how other countries go about their lives because while there are so many differences, there are also a lot of similarities. It opened my eyes to the world around me and made me more aware of what’s going on.
On the flip side, we teach them new things. They had their first Thanksgiving meal with us, that right there is a learning experience. Pumpkin pie, stuffing, vegetable casseroles, and sweet potatoes were all new foods for them. The turkey was even a new idea. They learned what Thanksgiving was about in America, family and friends, old and new.
In the end, it is a beautiful thing to have new friends. And it is even more beautiful to have friends from around the world. They have so much to offer for us and we have so much to offer them. I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to host them this Thanksgiving. Yining, Ayoung, and Mutlaq are blessings in my life who brought me and my family tons of smiles and laughs. I would love for everyone to get to experience what I did. I would not have said this a couple weeks ago, but I truly believe that everyone needs an international friend.