By Jordon Lawrenz, Kelsey Keller, Brock Mackinnis
There has been a lot written about the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay (UWGB) students traveling abroad, but what about the international students who made their way to UWGB? We had the opportunity to speak to six foreign exchange students regarding their experience so far.
One of the first questions asked involved the application process. Marvin Hohl, a student from Germany, said, “The process can be difficult at times.” Hohl talked about going through his advisor and the international office. Hohl noted, “There’s a contract between Germany and Wisconsin. I was able to choose my top three locations in the United States before ultimately going with Green Bay.” Hana Aida, a Japanese student, stated, “My application process was very simple compared to my friends.” Aida continued, “I had about four or five countries to choose from, but I loved what I saw from Green Bay.”
Salinda Yim, a Cambodian, spoke about what she was most looking forward to, “I was excited to see all of the seasons. Back home, I live in the middle of the city, and there are no trees or nature.” Yim also had the opportunity to visit Chicago, a city she thought was much different than Green Bay. Tongil Kim, a student from South Korea, was able to visit Houston, Texas, a while back. Kim went on his journey with some other Korean exchange students, noting that Green Bay is much cleaner.
There was one thing that immediately stood out to Ecem Mutluer, a student from Germany. Mutluer explained, “It was weird seeing so much school spirit. In my home country, it’s basically frowned upon to wear clothing from your school”.
All foreign exchange students agreed on the little precautions for COVID-19. Hanami Inagaki, a Japanese student, talked about how Japan is still full of masks. Mutluer echoed this statement, “It doesn’t even feel like COVID-19 exists over here.” That said, COVID-19 had a huge impact on Hohl’s journey. Hohl explained, “I was supposed to go to Singapore. I had an internship lined up, but it fell through due to the pandemic”.
Sadly, not everything can go perfectly. Each student has been here for a few months now, with everyone but Hanami heading back home in December. Hanami is the lone student who will not be heading back until May. There’s no doubt that it took a while to get adjusted to the UWGB campus. One of Mutleur’s biggest struggles has been not having a car. She mentioned, “The university is far from the city, so it is difficult to go out.” Hohl had no difficulty going out and enjoying campus life but stated, “It’s hard to decide which activity to attend. There’s always a bunch going on, and I have to pick and choose.” Aida mentioned the language barrier, but the biggest thing that stood out was how much faster students and professors are talking.
Education-wise, it was an adjustment. There was a majority decision that schooling would be easier for them once they got the hang of it. Kim is the only one out of the group who has an online class. Overall, Hohl likes the pace of his classes and thinks they are much easier. Mutleur discussed, “Here it’s a bunch of little assignments that can help my grade. In my home country I’m relying on a good grade for my presentation along with exam and research paper.” Yim studies on an American curriculum, so she hasn’t had to adapt like the others.
Technology has allowed these six to keep in touch with their family on a regular basis. The phone calls and texts prompted them all to proclaim that they didn’t miss their home country. Green Bay is certainly a change of pace, but they love the campus atmosphere and all the activities that come with it.