Maryville is a diverse campus, infused with students with a variety of backgrounds. Some students call Missouri and Illinois home. Others are from California, Texas, Minnesota; Yet many hail from countries around the globe. What brought our international students to America, and how did they wind up at Maryville? What do they like best living in this country we call home?
Name: Andrea Fandiño
Country of Origin: Mexico
Hometown: Mexico City
Andrea Fandiño, junior, came to school in America to learn a culture different from hers. She wanted to improve her English skills while also stepping far out of her comfort zone. Since Maryville is a small school near a city, that was huge pro when deciding where to attend. Fandiño wanted to go to a private school, but didn’t like the prospect of living in a rural area. She also plays tennis for Maryville.
While people who were born and raised in America find the change of weather to be quite bland, Andrea shares that to be a huge cultural difference from what she is used to. “My biggest culture shock was the food and the weather in St. Louis. I was not used to eating so much fast food or to be in an environment that gets extremely cold and has snow in the winter,” Fandiño said.
She also notes that people in America go about meals very differently. Fandiño notes that Americans eat quickly, then go on to something else. In Mexico, people sit down for every meal and take their time. According to Fandiño, it’s almost a ritual of sorts.
Overall, Fandiño is extremely glad she has had the opportunity to study here. “My English has gotten way better. I’ve made lifetime friendships, I’ve learned a lot about different cultures. I’ve been able to be successful outside of my comfort zone,” Fandiño said.
She is currently pursuing a degree in Communication, but hasn’t decided on a specific career. After graduation, she wants to pursue a master’s degree and get a job in the United States to see if she would enjoy a long-term career in the states.
Name: Ali Djop
Year: Alumni, Class of 2015
Country of Origin: Senegal
Ali graduated from Maryville in 2015 with a bachelor of arts in international studies and two minors, one in political science and the other in Spanish. Following graduation, he spent a year interning with the United Nations in New York and is now starting his master’s program at the London School of Economics.
He decided to come to school in the United States, because he believed exposure to English would help him to succeed in his projects later in life. Ali, much like Andrea, came to Maryville because of the small school atmosphere and hands on learning. “I chose Maryville because unlike large research universities, Maryville is a smaller school. Also, the student to professor ratio is quite small, which means that students like me can learn better and perform better academically,” Djop said.
When asked how Maryville prepared him for where he is now, Ali credits the school and his advisor in helping him gain the knowledge and skills he would need to work for an international institution. His time here also helped make him aware of events around the globe. Though Ali is not entirely sure of his future career, it will definitely involve working with people from around the globe.
Name: Lina Kunert
Country of Origin: Germany
Lina Kunert, freshman, is currently in her first semester of schooling in the United States. She says it’s been always been a dream of hers to spend significant time in America. A friend inspired her to study here and Maryville offered her a tennis scholarship. Needless to say, she jumped at the opportunity.
Kunert hopes to get the same benefits Ali and Andrea received from their experience. “I will improve my language skills and grow as a person, while meeting new people and cultures. That will help me to figure out what I will do in my future life,” Kunert said.
Like her teammate Fandiño, Kunert also states that the food was her biggest culture shock upon arriving in America. She likes the welcoming and helpful attitudes she has encountered so far, which isn’t surprising; Maryville is known for its inviting atmosphere. When she graduates with a degree in business administration, Kunert plans on returning home to Germany.