Foreign students discuss U’s help

Elizabeth Giorgi

Human resource development graduate student Nidhi Dhanju said that when she arrived in the United States from India, she wished there would have been someone from the University to pick her up.

She got to America, she said, but didn’t know how to get to the University.

Four University students with different cultural backgrounds had a forum-style discussion Tuesday to talk about their experiences at the University.

During the presentation, titled “Around the World in 120 Minutes,” students used personal experiences as examples to show ways the University can improve its cultural awareness on student, faculty and community levels.

Dhanju encountered other cultural complications at first as well. For instance, she said she didn’t realize she was supposed to tip cab drivers.

Graduate student Alexander Tkachenko, originally from Ukraine, said he was not aware of where he could go to buy necessities.

Tkachenko said he went to the grocery store on Washington Avenue Southeast and there were not any fruits or vegetables, so he had to find a grocery store that sold those types of foods.

Both Dhanju and Tkachenko said they had never written a paper before they came to school in the United States.

“I wish there would have been some kind of department training,” Dhanju said.

It was difficult to adjust to the academic differences, she said.

“The system of grading is completely different,” Tkachenko said.

Biology and psychology senior Bethany Doran, a Korean-born student who has lived in the United States most of her life, said it was very difficult to find scholarships to apply for.

“(Students) are on a lot of mailing lists, but they are not necessarily very helpful,” she said.

In India, Dhanju paid $100 for three years of college, she said.

She said one of the biggest complications for international students is getting financial aid.

“You have to dig for scholarships – they aren’t easy to find,” she said.

Teaching assistant senior Daniel Schriever, who comes from a multicultural family, said he feels the undergraduate population at the University isn’t very diverse.

That being said, Schriever said it can be difficult to get people to change their beliefs about diversity and their role as world citizens.

Doran said Minnesota is more homogeneous than other parts of the nation, but at the University there is “a bit more” diversity.

“People can be different but still blend in – in a way,” she said.

Tkachenko said it seems to him like the graduate school at the University is very diverse.

“I don’t feel like I am a foreigner here,” he said.