By Theresa Breault
That’s one of the first things I was taught to say as I sat at lunch with a big group of the international students here at Saint Mary’s University.
Although this simple Chinese “hello” was followed with lots of laughter at my silly accent, I felt welcomed and cheerful as I ate my pizza. Whether you have class with one of the Chinese students, live with one of them, or simply see them in passing, you know already the easiness of conversation and the undeniable friendliness of most of these young adults.
Although this is many of the international students’ first year studying in the U.S., they are already learning how our culture works and how similar so many of the things we do are to their own practices. I sat next to Bin Hu, a senior here at SMU, and asked him about adapting to life in America. Although this is not his first year here, he had a lot to tell me. “It’s been good,” Bin said. “I really like it here, and I have made a lot of good friends!” I am glad to say that I am one of those friends (Wo ai ni, Bin!), and he certainly has added much to the dynamics of SMU.
I turned next to some freshman international students. Su Fei, Yiyun and Heshan all had only good things to say about their experience here so far. Fei and I giggled as we talked about the coming snow, and about her big fuzzy coat that she bought preparing for the cold. As I sat there, it didn’t take long for me to dive into laughing, making jokes and planning times to get together again. I loved how carefree and how spirited they all were, and I felt at home talking to them. In all, I believe I made many new friends with this experience, and I can only say good bye in the way they parted with me as I got up to leave: “Bai Bai!”