I wanted to follow up to my post from two weeks ago entitled “Making Friends Across the Globe” this week because I actually got to practice what I preached.
This past Friday I was invited to dinner at one of the international student’s home. Of course, I was so excited to try real, traditional Chinese food, so I accepted the invitation without question. Of course, as is American custom I had to offer to bring something to add to the meal, but my host said no, that I only needed to bring myself.
When I got there, I was greeted by my friend’s roommate, his friend from the MBLE program, and three more international students from our MLHR program. Dinner was already on the table when I arrived and the guys all announced that they were starving, so it was time to eat. I sat down, then chopsticks were passed around the table, when they got to me, my host said, “Oh, here, this is for you” (handing me a spoon). It was probably best I didn’t try to make a fool of myself using chopsticks (that will be a challenge I’ll have to tackle next time).
The food itself was so good. There was rice, a chicken leg, carrots, potatoes, all covered in a thick sauce (that I cannot pronounce) all served hot in a large bowl. Everything that was “extra” or anything that wasn’t supposed to be in our bowls at first was placed on the table and served “family-style.” The atmosphere truly felt like a family dinner away from home.
The best part about the meal was getting to talk to another international student from the MBLE program, so we were all able to learn more about the kind of work he does in his program. Also, it was fun talking to everyone about China as well as what things were similar in both Chinese and American culture. One of the most interesting things was the fact that Facebook is banned in China, so it was interesting to hear the international students talk about being able to use it in the United States. One of my favorite moments of the dinner was trading relationship stories and at one point one of the women from MLHR said “I think that is an issue that is something that all girls know” after we had been talking about guys and relationships. We all started to realize that, yes we were born and raised in different countries, but the four of us are still women, which means there are so many things we have in common.
Overall, dinner was such a great experience and a nice way to learn a little bit more about Chinese culture, and more importantly the interests and feelings we all share, no matter what our nationality. These friendships with international students are so amazing because not only do you get to experience another culture, but you also get to make new friends in the process. So, while you are at OSU, take the time to get to know the international students, because they bring so much invaluable knowledge and friendship to our program.