September 2010 Archives


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                In a way to feel a little bit less alone and for you to have another point of view and discover another international student, I interviewed a student from Taiwan that I met in the cafeteria. Her name is Yu- Tung Lee, she is a junior in English major here but in a multicultural and linguistic major in Taiwan.


 Why did you come to United States?  Why IUP?

I have to study abroad; it's the policy of my university in Taiwan. All students have to study abroad when they are junior student. And, I choose IUP is because IUP has the cooperation relationship with my school in Taiwan and compare to other universities in California I think IUP is cheaper. I came here in August with my classmates and some students who study at the same university as me.

How did American people welcome you? Miniature de l'image pour taiwan.gif

I think American people are nice. People in school always help me a lot. I have American friends too, some of them are my classmates and some others are from church.

What are your daily main difficulties here? (work, money, insurance, language, housing, relationship...)

The cost of living in the States, compared to Taiwan, is much more expensive, it is a difficult lifestyle to lead here. Sometimes it is also hard to express what I want to say in English. In  class, sometimes I can't understand what the professor and classmates are talking about. Sometimes, I don't understand some film we watch in class since it is without subtitle.

What do you do to improve your English?

 Read more English articles and use more English in my life.


Does the university help you in your every day life issues?

Yes, it does. If I have any problem I can ask the CA to help me since I live in campus. They are nice.

How long are you going to stay in United States/IUP?

I only can stay in USA for one year it's the duration of my visa. I also have to go back to Taiwan to finish my school.

How different are American students compared to Taiwaneses ones? 

The American students always go to class every early. They are seldom late to class. They always answer the questions in class. In my home country, the students are always late and we don't like to answer questions in class.

 Miniature de l'image pour taiwan_taipei-101.jpg

National Taiwan University in Taipei city. Picture from Google image

How do you find life in Indiana? How do you feel here?

I think the life here is good but the place is too big for me. The stores close so early. But I think I adjusted the life here very well.  I fell well. I think the life in IUP is interesting. I came here with many Taiwanese students so I don't feel alone.

 Do you feel any homesickness? What do you miss?

Yes, i do. Sometimes I miss my family but I talk to them everyday through Skype. I also miss the food in Taiwan.

Do you participate to any IUP's event (sport, concert, association event...)?

No, I don't but I would like to join some sport steam.

What would you like to say to the other students about international student?

I would like to say that being an international student is difficult but interesting.


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      Yes, in this Indiana Pa's adaptation, I'm Scarlett Johansson. But I found a lot of other Scarlett and Bill Murray... 

           What a great experience to leave the country you have always lived in and go to discover and live something completely different somewhere else. It's what I did like the more than 700 international students who came to IUP. You maybe don't know it but 75 countries are represented in our university. Kenya, France, India, China... these students come from every part of the globe. So no, I am certainly not the only one lost in translation.


Like me, before they come, these student had to pass an exam called the TOEFL, which is the Test Of English As a Foreign Language. It's on 120 points. We also had the immigration requirements to fullfill. To study in the United States, we had to obtain a Visa which enable us to stay on the American territory. We also had to have done our SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It a wiup.jpgay for the American government to collect, maintain and provide the information so that only legitimate foreign students or exchange visitors gain entry to the United States. Most of the international students came thanks to an exchange program that IUP created in collaboration with different schools in the world.  These students come only for a semester or two.

For me it was a little bit different since I came here thanks to a sport program. To obtain a scholarship as a student- athlete, I had to have a good level in my Track and Field event, which is long jump. The most important requirement for every student is to have good high school or university grades. 

As I told you, the cultural clash can be very rude. So, in a way to help international student during this transition period, the university created an orientation week, before classes start. During these long days-from 9:30 a.m to 5p.m-, the university staff helps us for immigration, insurance or work papers. (Funny stuff!) The members of the Office of international education give us information, advices about our student life and the campus. They really help international students to adjust themself to theirunityday.jpg new life. This week is a good way to meet interesting people from all over the world and create friendships.

The office also organize a lot of event for international student and people who would like to share with them to the Conversation club, foreign film and music series or  the International Education Week (IEW). The next one will be held October 4 through October 8, 2010.


How do you translate...?

Communication. This is the biggest problem for an international student. A problem that can sometimes isolated us.  Sometimes, I feel lost when people talk, either because they speak to fast or because they use slang, words or expressions that I don't know. You have to know that we don't learn the dictionary at school. So, sometimes we miss some vacabulary. I learnt English at school, but the way we learn it in France is not sufficient to become bilingual. In France, if we really want to be bilingual, we have to do it by ourselves by reading books, watching movies and listening music in English. We can also take English classes independently from school. I came here to learn and become bilingual. It's the main reason why most of international students come too. But at the beginning, it's hard to express ourself and speak as easily as we used to do in our home country. In this context, it's hard to be ourselves. By example, I used to say a lot of jokes with my friends in France. Here, I miss vocabulary, sometimes, we don't laugh about the same things or people don't understand that I'm joking. You also have references about things that we don't have as foreigners and it's the same in the opposite way. Sometimes we can fell ashamed to speak because people ask us to repeat again and again because they don't understand us. As English is not our mother tongue, words don't come easily or spontaneously. We have to think about what we want to say every time we want to speak. It looks stupid but just think about when you had Spanish or French classes. I can't even less explain you how hard it is when we are tired or angry... You can now understand why, sometimes, it's easier to stay mute and just listen people talk.

Some people understand and try to speak slowly, they try to know who we are and to be curious. I met others who were not very tolerant and open- minded. They didn't really try to understand me when sometimes I had some difficulties to express myself or they just laughed. For them, you cannot act differently, as if you come from another country or have a different culture, since "You are in the United States now!" You have to act like an American. The same way, they don't want you to speak your mother tongue as if you are speaking with a compatriot.

Yes, it's not easy every day to be an immigrant student!!

And you, do you have foreign friends on campus?

Give me your opinion international students.


*Pictures of the International Education Week (IEW) from IUP website





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Hi readers. Welcome to my blog!

My naThumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 33488_418142861948_599341948_5234442_8131509_n.jpgme is Laurie Ajavon. I am a French student-athlete in Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I come from a city at five minutes from Paris. I am here, in Indiana, to study and to practice Track and Field.

 After a year full of events, (Don't worry, I'm not going to start to tell you about love stories, issues with parents... everybody knows that) I wanted to completely change my habits, change of frame and most of all, leave my parents to become emancipated. I knew there was a program which offered to study and do sport in America with the possibility to have a scholarship . Since I practiced Track and Field for almost 15 years, it was a good opportunity; so I decided to leave. Change of language, culture, hours and continent. It was hard to leave the family nest, live by myself and stay in a country where I don't know anybody but it would be a rewarding experience.

So, Monday, Jan. 11 2010, I took a flight from Paris to Pittsburgh by myself, an 11 hours flight by myself.  Then, I had a one hour ride toIUP.jpg go to Indiana. First thing, I had to change the configuration of my brain. From that point, I had to use permanently the dictionary in my brain if I wanted to speak. Bye spontaneity! Try to do it when you spent almost nine hours in a plane and that you are tired!! Second matter: the weather. In France, it was cold, but not as cold as here! My first contact with Indiana was with the snow. It snowed during almost three months non-stop. Third matter: I left a big city like Paris, full of people, full of life, where you can find everything everywhere and where there is a lot of means of transportations for a small town like Indiana, full of student but empty during holydays, a town where you cannot move without a car and where parties end at 2 a.m. It was a tough introduction... ( A lot of people will asked me "Why IUP?" My answer is "because there is a good Journalism curriculum" ...but I have to admit that it wasn't my first choice...)

 Every day, I discovered your culture, some habits, very different from what I used to do and to live. I realized how different our two countries could be. Our universities are different, our daily habits are different even the way we get dressed is different. Last semester was a culture clash for me. I had to fit to the way you live.

            Back in France in June for the summer, I told my family and my friends the differences I saw. They gave me the idea to create a blog to show how different are France and the United States. So, after a first semester of adjustment, this semester, I decided to be more observant, to learn more about your country and report life in the United States, though IUP's lifestyle. I am going to make you discover my country. So, ready for a free trip between United States and France?

Pictures: Notre Dame de Paris. Picture by Laurie Ajavon

Indiana University  campus' acess. Picture from

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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