International UCCS students share experience with U.S. culture

UCCS is home to hundreds of international students from over 60 countries. For many of those students, U.S. culture is vastly different from that of their home country, and the difference can be difficult to adapt to.

Two international students, Kaleb Fekade and Esi Fynn, share some of their experiences living in Colorado and how it compares to home.

Fekade is originally from Ethiopia and finds “a lot of things are super convenient; there’s drive-thru pharmacies. Convenience is a really big thing here.” Fekade said this is different from Ethiopia, where “you might not get water for like three days a week.”

Fekade said the local cuisine has been a less positive experience in the U.S. “Meat just tastes worse here. It just tastes bland or it tastes bad. Chicken was fine but beef was bad.”

The tuition system has also been an area of adjustment. “In-state and out-of-state tuition is weird,” Fekade said.

Fynn, who recently moved to Colorado from Namibia but is originally from Ghana, had positive things to say about her educational experience in the U.S., especially the flexibility and range of course offerings.

“Back home you’re taking courses very specific to your degree plan. There’s also a lot more degree choices [here],” she said.

However, Fynn agreed with Fekade on the quality of food in the U.S. compared to food in her home countries. “I miss the food. The ingredients taste different too; bread isn’t the same here, snacks don’t taste the same here,” she said.

According to both students, home cooking is far and away the best food available, but they do still have favorite spots to grab food in town. Fekade’s preferred restaurant is In-N-Out. “If I ever want to get a burger or a milkshake, I get In-N-Out. Honestly that’s the only place I go to,” he said.

Fynn’s favorite places to eat are local ethnic restaurants. “I eat a lot of Korean food, but otherwise I do like Smashburger,” she said.

There are a handful of student organizations on campus that were founded solely to help international students. The iBuddy program, for example, helps international students by introducing them to components of U.S. culture.

Beyond university programming, part of integrating with local culture is simply stepping out and experiencing it firsthand, according to both Fekade and Fynn.

Though Fynn is an iBuddy member, she believes that international students should also “go for what interests them. There are a lot of clubs at UCCS, so wherever makes them feel the most welcome.”

Fekade recommended that international students immerse themselves by getting involved on campus. “Attending any events on campus is a positive … you’ll likely meet new people and make new friends,” he said.

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