International students arriving at Purdue this fall will have to adjust to a number of cultural differences, such as reading the temperature in Fahrenheit or the time in standard form.
In addition to that, international students will also have to learn the Hoosier culture, including the weather.
“I’m not used to sunset happening at 9 p.m.,” said Samruddha Gujrathi, a senior student in the College of Engineering who is originally from India.
Indiana weather is also known to be very unstable.
“The weather may change on an hourly basis,” said Saleh Alquraishi, a sophomore student of Krannert School of Management who is from Saudi Arabia.
“You may need to change your clothes two to three times a day,” Alquraishi said in a YouTube video, sharing his first-semester experience as an international student. “You may need your umbrella on a sunny day.”
Other than the unpredictability in the fall and spring, international students should also be prepared for the sometimes-harsh winters.
In the past spring semester, Purdue canceled classes for only the seventh time in 30 years due to extreme temperatures of -40 degrees with the wind chill.
Though the weather may be unfamiliar to international students, they’ll likely still be able to experience some of their hometown cuisine at Purdue.
Due to the large international population at Purdue — about 20 percent of the total student body — Purdue and the local community boast a decent variety of food.
“There are restaurants for almost every culture,” said Jie Wang, a graduate student in college of engineering who is originally from China.
“If anything, you can always go to Chicago,” Wang said, indicating Chicago has broader food choices.
International students might occasionally find themselves disappointed with the level of spiciness in dishes found locally.
“We are just used to a lot of spicy food, so far a lot of food here is a little less spicy,” said Medhaa Shankar, a first-year graduate student in Krannert School of Management who is originally from India.
The cultural shock might vary among different international students due to their English levels.
“That wasn’t a big problem for me, because I’ve been speaking English my whole life,” Alquraishi said. “The problem there was (to) not mix English and Arabic at the same time, because back home I’m used to mixing those two languages.”
According to Yuan-Yu Morgan, a coordinator of international student service at College of Liberal Arts who is also a former Taiwanese international student at Purdue, Purdue has accordingly increased the TOEFL minimum requirement to assure the English ability of international students.
“Purdue used to require very low TOEFL scores,” said Morgan. “We actually had quite a few Chinese students who had hard time speaking English or understanding lectures.”
When asked to give advice to incoming international students, Morgan stressed two points.
Students are more than welcome to turn to advisors when they encounter anxiety or stress, because advisors are more than just academic resources; they are psychological support for students, too.
Morgan also said students will be the happiest when finding a balance with their own and other cultures.
“Take myself as an example. … I have quite a few Chinese friends,” Morgan said, “but they are not my only friends.”
The advisor encourages international students to be open-minded.
“I wouldn’t avoid interaction with another culture,” Morgan said, “no matter how unfamiliar I am to that culture.”
International upperclassmen also encouraged incoming students to be more active.
Senior engineering student Yuvraj Singh, who lives in Dubai, said: “Because most international students are more reserved, they’d talk to people they can relate to. So I’d say just go ahead and speak to anyone, (and) make new friends.”