By Alyssa Jarrett
City on a Hill Press Reporter
Just like their American classmates, foreign students housed in the International Living Center (ILC) have their own likes and dislikes about life as a Slug. They come with unique perceptions of the world, and for better or worse, will soon have to return to their native countries.
For Australian Michael Heffernan, 23, one quarter at UC Santa Cruz was enough. At an unofficial good-bye barbeque dinner at the ILC, friends of Heffernan gathered for some fun before he headed back to his hometown of Melbourne.
Heffernan, a legal studies major, stated that although “the [UCSC] campus is good,” he would never live in America “unless I was paid well.” He further explained that “there are large disparities of wealth [in the U.S.], and public transportation, at least in Santa Cruz, is terrible.”
Despite the difference in opinions about America in general, the majority of international students were very positive about living at the ILC, which is located in the College Nine and Ten apartments. According to Mira Hutton, the ILC’s coordinator for residential education, there are about 100 ILC students right now, half of whom are international. Hutton added that “most came in the fall, but there are 15 new students this quarter.”
One of those new students is 21-year-old Angela Koo, a self-described “really shy” person from Singapore. Even though she admitted homesickness, Koo said, “My roommates are nice, and I like the sense of community at the ILC.” Used to “conservative” Singapore, Koo likes that “people are more friendly and open here.”
French student Eglantiene Raux, 19, agrees that making friends is easy, but after spending fall quarter at UCSC, she said, “In class, people are really nice, but when the class is over you never see them again.”
Raux has also personally dealt with stereotypes that Americans tend to place on foreigners, especially ones from France. “People would tell me, ‘I’m surprised you’re French, because you’re nice,’” she said.
For domestic student Katherine Chen, 20, the ILC is all about breaking down those preconceived notions of people from other countries. She said, “I first thought French people were kind of snotty, but the ones here are really chill.”
Among the international students at the barbeque, the two biggest complaints were American food and education. Australian Daniel Haymen, 21, has only been in Santa Cruz since the beginning of January, but said, “The food here is too oily and sugary.”
Haymen added that while there are fewer overweight people in Santa Cruz than in America nationally, “because it’s a bunch of hills,” he is not surprised about America’s rising obesity rate.
Another student dissatisfied with American cuisine is Lea Danilewsky, a 19-year-old from France. “The coffee and food here are terrible, and not just on campus,” she said. “I only went to one good restaurant when I traveled to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and the cook there was trained in France.”
Danilewsky was also amazed at how much American students pay to go to a university like UCSC. She said, “Everything is free for me, except my housing and books.” According to her, the reason for this difference is because “in France, education is a public service, not a business. Everyone should be able to have this level of education.”
Haymen’s outlook on education in the United States is one that even Americans studying math and science may agree with. “The imperial system sucks,” he said. “America needs to convert to the metric system right away.”
Overall, the ILC’s diverse group shows that everybody has his or her own insights about the world, but their hopes to meet nice people and have fun aren’t any different than Slugs from the States. As for her reason for living at the ILC, Katherine Chen simply stated, “It’s cool to meet people from other countries.”