Campus / International / News / September 23, 2015

Freshman international students adjust to life at Knox and in U.S.

The new school year brings with it the arrival of students from across the country — and the world. This year’s freshman class includes students from India, Greece, Turkey and other countries.

U.S. News recently named Knox College as one of the most international liberal arts schools in the nation. For a variety of reasons – some academic, others financial – Knox makes the distance worthwhile for these students.

Of Knox’s incoming international students, eight call Nepal home. Freshman Shresha Karmacharya is one of them. She was introduced to Knox through Director of International Student Services and Admission Joshua Ferchau. Ferchau is currently spending 52 days on assignment in Asia.

“Joshua visits my school every couple of years so I talk to him there,” she said.

Although she misses Nepal, she knew an American education was right for her.

“Nepali education is very limited,” Karmacharya said. “Students are instructed to read the textbook and answer the questions in the textbook. We don’t really explore things on our own, but that happens here.”

Freshman Shruti Mungi comes to Knox from India, which maintains open borders with Nepal, along with nine other students in the class of 2019. Assistant Director of International Student Services Rebecca Eckart helped Mungi find her way to Knox.

“After I submitted my Common App, that’s when she got in touch with me. She continuously sent emails to see if I had any questions,” she said.

Like Karmacharya, attending Knox was purely academic for Mungi.

“I wanted to go to America for a liberal arts college. I’m not sure, but there’s like all of one in India,” she said.

International Tea Hour, held in Alumni Hall at 4 p.m. on Fridays, gives students an opportunity to socialize with international students. All students are welcome, international or not. Freshman Ceren Ordas, Knox’s sole Turkish student, attended the event last week. For Ordas, it was her high school that persuaded her to apply to Knox.

“My guidence counselor was seeking out colleges for me that would give me the best scholarships,” she said.

Movies gave her an idea of what an American education would be like. “I thought, ‘cheerleaders are so mean!’” Ordas said.

Mean cheerleaders or no, all three students have experienced moments when Americans fell short of understanding their culture.

“People ask me how many wives my dad has or if I ride camels,” Ordas said.

“They ask me if I ride elephants or are surprised I know English so well,” Mungi said.

“Americans have asked me if I see Mount Everest everyday,” Karmacharya said.

Eckhart said that having a campus where students come from a wide-variety of backgrounds is beneficial to both international students and American students and gives them an opportunity to learn from one another.

“Ideally, the students should be learning from each other because it’s such a valuable experience,” she said. “Once you get out into the work world, there aren’t really a lot of places where you can so easily meet people from totally different places and experiences. I hope students take advantage of all the opportunities Knox has.”

Connie Meade

Tags:  freshmen greece India international students Nepal Turkey US News

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