I knew study abroad would have an impact on me in unimaginable ways. One of the most unexpected results, though, was the increase in empathy and understanding that I now feel I have with exchange students at OU. In Ecuador, it always meant the world to me when someone would go out of their way to speak to me, give me a ride, or ask me if I needed help in my classes. Just having friends was so meaningful to me, and I could not have gotten through my semester as well as I did without those friends. Because of that, I tried to make a point to befriend international and exchange students in my classes this semester.
I got to meet Jorge right away this semester because we initially had two classes together, both in the evenings. He’s from Colombia, which is a country that has been on my bucket list for a while. It also has a very similar culture to Ecuador, from where I had just returned, so we bonded over similar experiences. We got to do some fun things in Norman, like making ceviche and going to an open mic night at Second Wind. One of the highlights of the semester, though, was Jorge coming home with me for Easter!
We got to go roller skating, shoot a LOT of guns, hang out with my family, including lots of little cousins, at Easter, and go fishing, though pretty unsuccessfully. It was an awesome time, and I am so glad it worked out to have Jorge along! He’s going back to Colombia soon, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing him again someday, in the States, Colombia, or somewhere in between.
If you’ve met an international student, I would highly recommend being a friend to them while they’re here! It meant the world to me, and I know so many are looking for friends here in the States. Just offering to take them to Walmart, having them over to study together, or taking them home for a weekend can have a huge impact on both of your lives.