Inquiring Minds

By AnnGardner Eubank

Each Wednesday in the LEAP studio of the Stanley Library, there is an hour long information session on various topics from week to week. Most recently, Inquiring Minds showcased their information session, Around the World in 60 Minutes: Perspectives on Living in a Foreign Culture. The session was presented by a panel of four international students currently studying at Ferrum and two Ferrum students who previously spent time learning abroad. The students compared the differences between their country and the United States in regards to the people, education, and senses of humor, and also shared what they would miss the most when they head home.     

Niamh Sammon, 21, from Northern Ireland, attends University in Belfast but came to Ferrum to study business for a year. Sammon said, “Being thrust into the middle of nowhere was a big change.” She also mentioned that while it was not a big deal or a problem with her, she thought it was funny that at twenty years old, she could not drink alcohol. She noted the legal drinking age in Ireland is 18, so she thought the small difference was a bit quirky. With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, Sammon also talked about the major differences in how the holiday is celebrated in the US. She said that while in Ireland it is a very big festivity with dancing and socializing, it is also a religious holiday and family oriented. She said it gives the Irish great pride to see how enthusiastic the United States is in general during the holiday.        

Katya, also called Kate, is a student from Russia studying education at Ferrum. She noticed that one of the biggest differences between the US and Russia were the educators. Katya said that the teachers and professors in the US seem so much more happy and easygoing, while in Russia, they can often be a bit more strict and regulated. Katya was pleasantly surprised upon her arrival to the states. She said, “I didn’t expect people to be so nice to me! People here are so generous, so chatty, and so smiley.” Katya also mentioned how she enjoyed the campus here at Ferrum. She said that at her university in Scoff, Russia, there were large buildings designated for different majors, so there wasn’t much movement from one building to another, as it is at Ferrum.

Wonjun Lee, also known as “J,” is from South Korea and studies biology in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. He said he is frequently asked about the tensions between North and South Korea. He said unless someone lives very close to the border, it doesn’t affect the average person’s day to day life. Lee said the most noticeable difference, besides the difference in population, was the climate. He said that the air pollution in South Korea is really strong and there aren’t sunny days and blue skies like there are at Ferrum. Lee said he chose to attend Ferrum because “it’s quiet, peaceful and personal.”    

Pedro Tejos Salgado, a student from Santiago, Chile, noticed several differences between Ferrum and his homeland. He said that his college in Santiago didn’t have dorms and that everyone would commute. Pedro also noted the difference between the classes. He said in Santiago, they only have a couple of major tests or exams throughout the year without any homework or small assignments like at Ferrum. Unlike Ferrum, his college in Santiago wasn’t really like a typical college campus, but just several different buildings scattered throughout part of the city. Pedro said one of the major differences he found between the United States and Chile overall was the amount of 24 hour services in the US. He said at night, everything was closed down and people just go home.                               

         Senior Tristan Ousterhout and Michelle are both Ferrum College students who spent time abroad. Tristan, who spent some time last Summer in Ireland, noticed a difference between students there in comparison to some students at Ferrum. “You could see how proud the students were to be there, which can be different from here at Ferrum,” Ousterhout said. Along with the pride for their schooling, he also noted their overall pride for their land and their overall country, saying, “They care about literally everything. It’s so clean. There was never any trash and everything was always picked up after. They just seem to care more.” Michelle, who spent a semester in Scoff, Russia, said one of the major differences she saw was the organization of the classes. She said that their class schedules and class locations would change on a week-to-week basis due to professors often cancelling and moving classes, so no week was ever the same as the last. In regards to the climate, Michele compared Winter in Russia by saying, “Winter there was like a severe winter here, and when it got hot…it got hot.” While she had studied Russian for six years prior to her journey in Russia, she said she learned a lot more while being immersed in the country. She said she learned a lot about the Russian language in her science classes. “I had two professors who seemed really excited to have me. They were excited to have an American learning science in Russia. That was basically unheard of to them,” she said.      

While each student said studying abroad was an enjoyable and great experience for them, Niamh said coming to the United States has helped her confidence tremendously. While she has enjoyed her time in the US and plans to come back for graduate school, she also said how being away has really helped her appreciate her homeland. “When you study abroad, you can come home and really appreciate where you’re from,” she said. Katya agreed, saying, “I’ve realized I’m really proud to be from my country.” Wonjun Lee left everyone with words of encouragement saying, “Visit all of Asia, and not just South Korea. The Asian culture is so different and it would leave a really nice memory for anyone.”      

Inquiring Minds will be back in action Wednesday, March 15, with a presentation from Dr. Karl Roeper from 4-5pm in the LEAP studio of the Stanley Library.   

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