Coming to a new country to study abroad is a peculiar and difficult experience. For some students, it is their first time leaving home altogether. Others cannot wait to experience a new culture.
In order to help international students experience as much of the United States as possible, Chatham sponsored a trip to Washington, D.C., over fall break., and many international students loved the experience.
“I want to brush up on my English skills,” said Reimi Ibuki, who is from Japan. “It’s good to try something new.”
Ibuki is majoring in English, and she feels that coming to Chatham has helped her to improve her language skills.
Hye Young Baek, a South Korean student majoring in English and International Studies, likes living in Pittsburgh.
“I like Chatham because first of all, it’s in the city, and the public transportation is very comfortable to get around on,” she said, about why she chose to study at Chatham. “Also, the professors at Chatham are so nice to us international students. Many people recommended this school to me.”
But Baek also enjoyed the chance of scenery for the long weekend.
Chatham’s international student population is from a variety of backgrounds; people come from South Korea, Japan, Germany, and more to study here.
Many have not had the opportunity to study internationally before, and this fall break Washington, D.C., trip gave many a look into the American experience.
Chatham students particularly enjoyed visiting the Smithsonian Museum.
“I really like the ‘Night at the Museum’ movies, and I was glad to see some exhibits that were in the movie,” Baek said about her trip to the Smithsonian’s National History Museum. “There were so many nice exhibitions.”
“All the museums were really fun,” Ibuki added. “I also got to eat at a sushi place with my friends after.”
Another point of interest was visiting the more political buildings.
“I really liked the architecture of the White House and Capitol Building,” Baek said about her experience on Capitol Hill. “I also found the Lincoln Memorial very impressive. The people in D.C. were dressed for business. It was interesting to see a different atmosphere from Pittsburgh.”
The students had the opportunity to see the Washington Monument, as well as some of the other historical points in the city.
The trip not only provided a fun learning experience; it also offered great opportunities to bond with the other international students.
“There are not many chances to communicate in English in my country, so maybe this gives an advantage to me to communicate better and to make good memories here,” Ibuki said about how the trip helped her socially. “My friends and I had fun. We bonded a lot.”
Though the trip was short, it offered cultural exposure that many students had not yet had the chance to experience. Washington, D.C., offered a change of scenery from Pittsburgh, while still offering students a broad view of city life.
Baek said she would definitely visit the United States’ capital again, if given the chance.
“I heard the cherry blossoms are very pretty. I would love to go back and see that scenery,” she said.
While this will be the first of many trips international students will likely embark on while attending Chatham, it set a precedent in regards to education and entertainment, providing the international students with the full American experience.