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To My International Roommate

Thank you for all that you taught me.

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My freshman year in college was nothing short of extraordinary. I made some great friends, stepped out of my comfort zones (on several different occasions), and learned a lot about myself and the world. However, I think one of the highlights of my year was the person I had the privilege of sharing a dorm room with. She was sweet, smart, funny, and kind. All the things you could ask for in a roommate, she checked off the list. An added bonus -- she was Chinese!

Sure at first the thought of having an international roommate was scary and nerve-wracking. Never in my life did I imagine the person I would share my first dorm with would be someone from another country. My initial thoughts were she probably doesn’t know English, she will have some weird habits/traditions, and this probably won’t work. I couldn’t have been more wrong! As the year went on, I learned a few things and gained some valuable experience along the way.

China and America are very different. They have different food, clothes, music, lifestyles. So not only did I learn so much about China, I got to teach her a few things about America. When you live with an international roommate you learn about the culture and why no one culture is better than another.

Traditions are valuable. You don’t realize how important your traditions and rituals are until you feel they are being threatened in some way. My roommate never actively did this, but before I knew her, I wasn’t sure if she would challenge my beliefs and lifestyle. And I’m sure she felt the same way at some point.

If you are anything like me, living in a dorm for the first time is a terrifying thing. There are plenty of things going through your head. What if we don’t get along? What if I don’t have everything I need? Where do I go next? One of the most stressful things about having a first-time roommate is wondering if you have anything in common with them. However, with an international roommate you never run out of things to talk about. The conversations are never dull and you always have a great time. Living with an international student is never boring.

When you get put in a room with someone from another country you are forced to open up. When it’s a fellow American there is a chance you have similar beliefs and customs. However, when it is not a fellow American your chances are lessened. Now you spend countless hours researching that country and how they live so you have less of a surprise when you get there. You learn to have an open-mind when you live with someone from another country.

One of the most important things I gained from my relationship with my international roommate is that it’s important to step out of your comfort zone. I would never have picked her as a roommate due to my fear of being challenged. However, when I was forced to break that barrier and open my mind and heart to the Chinese girl, I was motivated to be a better, more outgoing person. She taught about love and friendship and what it means to be fearless.

So if you find yourself in a situation where you are either going to or are already living with an international student, I hope you’ll make the best of it. I hope you will take advantage of getting to learn about a new country and culture. There is a lot to learn and grow from. So let it be a positive experience for both of you.

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