Saturday, September 29, 2012

Global Introduction

What can you do in two weeks? How many people can you meet? My experiences at Macalester so far tell me that the answer is: A lot! I’ve met so many people and experienced so much, but it all started with orientation, so let’s start there.

Macalester talks a lot about being international, but during the three-day pre-orientation for international students, I got to see this firsthand. The campus was filled with people of different skin colors and with every accent I could imagine. Every time I talked to someone, I’d first ask where he or she came from, and I was very likely to hear a country that I knew nothing about except for its name. I admit that I thought Venezuela was in Eastern Europe, but now I know it’s in South America.   

During orientation, I attended an event called Sarcasm 101, where we learned how humor works differently in different parts of the world. After the presentation, we gathered in groups and everybody got to tell a joke from his or her own culture—first in his or her own language and then in English. Some jokes were universal; everybody in the room laughed. More often the joke-teller had to stop a couple times before finishing the joke because it was so funny, but after he or she translated it into English, people in the room just didn’t get it at all. We did, however, laugh along when the people laughed while telling the joke in their native languages. Laughter is contagious!

The most fun event was the drop-off in Minneapolis. We were randomly divided into groups of four or five and dropped off in a random spot in the city. Our task was to find and talk to someone who wore glasses, someone who had some kind of body art like a tattoo or face piecing, and someone who seemed interesting.

My group was dropped off in the center of Minneapolis, where we talked to a police officer with glasses and a man with a tattoo who was drinking coffee at a Starbucks. The most interesting part was running into two musicians playing guitars on the street. They sang some fantastic original songs for us. When they learned that we were from Macalester College in St. Paul, one of them even wrote a song right on the spot for us, which included words like Macalester and St. Paul in it.

The International Student Programs Office and other departments on campus have continued to coordinate programs to help us get to know the Twin Cities. This past weekend I went to see the Minneapolis of Institute of Arts, and the weekend before I visited the Mall of America – it’s so big, it even has an amusement park inside!

—by Jingjing Yang ’16