Me: Alex I want you to meet my friend Harriet. She’s at Yale with me.
Alex: Hi, where are you from?
Harriet: It’s in England.
Alex: Huh. So do you leave after this year?
Alex: You’re a foreign exchange student, right?
This exchange occurred on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving this year. I was practicing a wonderful Yale tradition I like to call Adopt-An-International-For-Thanksgiving. Most international students cannot travel home for one week due to plane costs and the hours the trip takes. Instead, many come home with American Yale students to celebrate the holiday. This year, my good friend Harriet came with me.
Harriet is from Nottingham. Harriet is from England. But Harriet is not a foreign exchange student. One in ten students at Yale are international, but are enrolled like every other student for four years. However, my friend Alex goes to a different university, where to her, international students come for one year and return after to their home university. Her interactions with international students are fleeting and not permanent.
My time differs at Yale and has allowed me to be exposed to a variety of different cultures and backgrounds, including people from different countries. I am a member of KASAMA, the Filipino-American organization at Yale. Not only do the members share my heritage, there are always two or three students who live in the Philippines. This has been great for travel or being able to order costumes in the Philippines and having friends bring them back from their home towns.
This is a video of my Filipino group doing a traditional dance tinikling in the same costumes:
The international diversity at Yale also leads to entertaining encounters on study abroad. During my time at Cambridge, I was in a program with students from different American universities. I was the joke of my friends, because I would run into a friend from London in the Victoria and Albert museum or arrange to see a fellow Stilesian from France when my group traveled to Paris. I like the idea that making international friends allows you to have a variety of couches to crash on while you travel.
I have been very fortunate to have made friends from India, England, France, Hong Kong and too many other places to count. It has really created a global sense to my education and social life at Yale. Who knows? A world tour may be in the cards for me – involving several couches.