All corners of the globe

Story by Emily Gresbrink

UW-Eau Claire is known for sending hundreds of students across the world for study abroad programs. While many students leave campus to study abroad, many also to come to campus from all across the globe.

Some students in exchange programs come to have an international experience that looks good on a résumé. Some come to improve their English and some wish to network in the United States in hopes of finding a job after graduation.

Three particular international students on campus arrived in Wisconsin in the middle of winter for second semester.

Senior Omar Diaz, originally from Monterrey, Mexico, said the weather was a big shock.

“There was too much snow,” he said. “Mexico is so warm.”

Senior Paulina Espinoza, from Santiago, Chile, was also surprised by the weather.

“I had never seen snow before,” she said. “But campus was really pretty.”

Besides the snow being a culture shock, senior Kristoffer Maximilian Rasmussen, from Odense, Denmark, was surprised at how “American” Eau Claire is.

“It’s like a movie where you come to a small town,” he said. “I saw ‘mall culture.’ There weren’t many different types of people. But it’s okay.”

Diaz and Espinoza also thought that Eau Claire would be a smaller town. Diaz’s host family took him on a tour of Eau Claire and he realized that it’s “not that small.”

“I thought there would be cows and farms (all over),” Espinoza said.

After getting settled into the University upon their arrival to the United States, Diaz, Espinoza and Rasmussen all settled into their dorms on campus. Living on campus for these students was another big difference from their home campuses.

“I like living in Towers,” Diaz said, “It’s so much fun. I practice English with my friends in the dorms.”

Rasmussen said campus is “very different from his campus in Denmark.”

“It’s not so big,” he said. “My University in Denmark is in one big building and you don’t live on campus.”

Settled into their dorms, all three then began their classes in January. Classes here proved to be unique and different experiences for each of these three
international students.

“The smaller classes are really good; everyone can participate,” Espinoza said.

On the other hand, Diaz found his mixture of ESL and regular classes were just okay.

“It’s different, but it’s another experience,” he said.

Now that the three have nearly finished the semester, Diaz and Rasmussen will be staying in the United States (given they find jobs) while Espinoza will be heading home.

“I miss (Monterrey) because it’s a large city, but people here are nice,” Diaz said. “Everyone knows each other … and to be with other international students, you can learn so many things you wouldn’t learn in your home culture,” he said.

Rasmussen said he is not particularly homesick. He still misses his family and friends back home in Denmark, but still “feels well adopted to American society.”

“If I went back, I would miss the people and my friends here,” he said.

Espinoza said she will miss some things about the university when she returns to Chile at the end of May.

“When I walk down the hill and see the river, I love that,” she said. “I want to go back, but I’m not in a hurry. I’m having fun.”