International students acclimate to Simpson life

by Kate Paulman

The jump from a small town to a big town can be a shock to any college student. For junior Fungisai Nota, however, that jump was little bigger than most dare to make.

Nota came to Simpson in 2000 from Zimbabwe.

“I’m used to big cities,” Nota said. “So coming here was a big change for me. It was hard for me to adjust to little town Indianola.”

For Simpson’s international students, the transition to Iowa can be challenging. From cold weather to cultural difficulties, international students have many things to get used to.

“When we have a new international student,” Todd Little, director of Hawley Academic Resource Center, said, “they arrive a few days earlier than other students and they go through a day-long orientation. This allows us to introduce them to the campus. They get to meet each other and get a look at campus life and the details they will need to deal with.”

According to Little, these details include opening a bank account, getting health insurance and employment.

Little works with the International Student Organization and serves as an advisor but “not in the academic sense,” he said. “Specifically, [ISO] gives them someone they can talk to about any cultural issues that may come up.”

For Nota, one of those issues has been a slight language barrier.

“I think it’s just a problem that people, when they listen to me as I talk, don’t understand me,” Nota said. “If I say one thing and people think I said something else that becomes a problem.Sometimes I talk to somebody and they get the wrong sense of what I mean.”

According to Nota, this problem can be overcome if people take the time to make sure they understand him.

“Some people you meet at Simpson, they are from small-town Iowa and they are confused about different people because they haven’t had a chance to interact with them,” Nota said. “They don’t have the experience of interacting with different people.”

Little says that the ISO gives international students a place to talk with each other about the different experiences they have at Simpson.

“One of the things we encourage is for any student, local or international,” Little said, “is for them to get involved with different organizations and aspects of campus.”

A car has given Nota added freedom.

“When you’re an international student and you come to Simpson, there’s no other way you can move around without waiting for someone to move you from place a to place b,” Nota said. “I feel like [having a car] gives me freedom.”

For international students, Little feels that the most important thing for international students is to “explore the culture they have been submersed in.”

“I appreciate the American culture,” Nota said, “but I don’t think I can say that I have been Americanized. What I do is chose the best of both cultures, my culture and the American culture.”