Tonight marked the first all-college dinner party hosted in the Dunham Residential Dining Hall and boy, was it something. Despite being the most recent addition to the list of student residences, the Residential Colleges already boast the highest proportion of international students of any of the lodgings on campus. I live on the fourth floor with my roommate Emilio who is also an international student. Suffice it to say that Emilio’s resume abroad would make even the most seasoned traveler jealous: born in León, Mexico, he spent eight years studying at a boarding school in Germany (UWC, an institution that many other international Sooners claim as their alma mater) and has spent time in Italy, France, Belgium and–so it seems–practically everywhere else.
The majority of Floor 4 is also comprised of international students, so the dinner’s constituents were nothing if not a melting pot. I met students from around the world–Kazunori from Japan, Anna from Norway, Chenxin from China–all of whom shared stories and experiences from home and gave me entirely new points of view over a family-style plate of barbecue chicken. Afterwards, Emilio even showed me some of the basic steps of Bachata, a traditional style of dance in Hispanic culture and, while I’m not a pro by any means, I am considering going out for the Latin Dance Club next week.
I’m sitting in a dorm room nearly six hours from my home in Kansas City and, for the first few weeks here, that thought had been weighing pretty heavily on my mind. I felt alienated, a state away from my family and two from my best friend. It’s hard to throw that same pity party for yourself when you’re sitting at a table full of students who are separated from their loved ones by an ocean or a continent. Suddenly, your six-hour drive home over break becomes enviable to the girl who’s staying in Norman over Christmas because the plane ticket home is too expensive. I don’t mean to end this post on a somber note because it shouldn’t. Meeting these international students has been a boon for this homesick freshman. Sure, getting Baked Bear with a guy from Sudan won’t change the distance to KCMO, but it helps everything seem smaller and makes home feel just a little closer to Norman.