Auburn’s Great Impact on International Lives

Auburn University welcomed nearly 1,000 international students in 2015 representing more than 100 countries, according to the Auburn University International Programs webpage. At least two students are taking the opportunity to learn, not only in the classroom, but also about a new culture, new people and new circumstances.

Veterinary medicine student Nadyne Rocha traveled from Brazil to study at Auburn. She traveled to the United States one year and four months ago. Rocha said she was able to choose to come to America, but the international studies program decided which university she would attend.

Xinmi Zhang came from China to study entomology, which is the study of insects. She is earning her master’s degree, and Auburn was recommended to her by a professor in China. “I am very interested and curious about insects,” Zhang said. She arrived in America three months ago. Neither Rocha nor Zhang had traveled to the United States prior to coming to Auburn.

The people in Auburn enjoy being alone and are less open to talking in classes but are extremely friendly, according to Rocha. Zhang said people are less likely to express feelings in the Chinese culture.

Both said one adjustment was discovering local food. “There is a lot of fast food here. I am a vegetarian, so it’s hard for me,” Rocha said. On the other hand, Zhang is happy there is a difference between the food from China and America. According to her, the food is somewhat bland in her country, but she enjoys the sweets and desserts Auburn offers.

“Many of us know what it is like to be a stranger in a foreign place, and I truly believe that community is the most powerful force in making someone feel comfortable and at home,” said Rachel Rubin, the intern for international students at Auburn Christian Fellowship. The organization meets weekly with international students to allow them to work on their English at Café English. ACF reaches out to international students and invites them to retreats, dances, free dinner and worship services. ACF is one of many campus organizations that welcome and interact with international students.

Because Zhang has only been in the country for a short while, she said she is still in the honeymoon stage and hasn’t seen the biggest change in her life yet. Although she hasn’t fully felt the impact, Zhang said she feels more comfortable and is able to be herself more in America.

Rocha, who has been in Auburn for over a year, said she began to feel her life changing around the sixth month mark of her trip. Her personality flourished in her time here, according to Rocha. She grew more confident and developed spiritually while in America. “I got closer with God here, and I got a chance to be baptized again,” Rocha said.

There is something different and special about this city, according to Rocha. “It really is so beautiful here and clean.” Rocha also said the technology and professors that Auburn University is equipped with help make the college special. Zhang said she found Auburn to be very peaceful.

Zhang also expressed her excitement and love for Auburn football. A professor had given her tickets to one of the first games, and the atmosphere amazed her, according to Zhang. “It made me love Auburn more."

Rocha would like to come back and finish her master’s degree at Auburn, she said. According to Zhang, the pressure in the classroom is much lower here, which is encouraging.

“I think that it is important for students to interact with and include international students around campus, because they need to know that they are welcomed and loved here in Auburn,” said Rubin.