Moving across continents and across cultures could be difficult for anyone. But several East Central University students made that move without complaints and with kudos for Ada and their ECU classmates.
They also will offer some of their native dishes at the International Dinner at 6 p.m. Friday [NOV. 20] in the Stanley Wagner Ballroom in ECU’s Memorial Student Union. Tickets are $10 per adult and free for children under the age of 5.
One of the biggest changes for Valeriya Kazakevich and Ekaterina Sazonova from Moscow wasn’t necessarily the cultural differences between Russia and America, but the change between a cosmopolitan city of over 10 million people and a rural town of barely 16,000.
“I live in a big city… But when I came here it’s just so much different. That’s why it’s really interesting to change your environment for some time,” Kazakevish said. “I really like it [small town] because it is very calm. You are relaxed here all the time. But when I get back to Moscow I will have to be running everywhere again, and it will be hard to get used to that.”
Sazonova explained how her expectations changed.
“It’s always interesting to find out what is true from the stereotypes and what is not,” she said. “I like it here. I like the people here and we’re amazed that people here are always smiling and trying to help.”
Ke Yin Loh, a freshman from Malaysia, voiced the same opinion.
“What I find here is that people are really friendly—not like Malaysia—everyone here says their “hi’s!”
Loh is fluent in four languages: Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, Malay and now English.
“People are so nice in helping me learn to speak English. When I mess up they are patient in helping me to understand,” Loh said.
Sana Iqbal, a sophomore from Saudi Arabia, was apprehensive about coming to Ada.
“I did not expect to be welcomed at all,” she admitted. “I expected that I would be ridiculed because I’m Indian. I’m not Saudi, but not only did I live and grow up in Saudi Arabia, I’m also Muslim. Two red flags right there. So I was actually very nervous.
“When I came here to Oklahoma, months later some random friend of mine would say, ‘hey, I never asked you—what's your faith, what’s your faith, what is it?’ I would be like, ‘Oh, I'm Muslim,’ and they would say, ‘No way! You cannot be Muslim.’ I would say, ‘Why?’ ‘You’re too nice.’”
ECU women’s tennis player Rhiannon Mecanovic, a freshman from Australia, had some expectations about what she would find in Ada compared with Melbourne, Australia, that has a population of almost four million people.
“I expected Ada to be smaller than what it is and I was worried that I would be bored in a small town. I was worried that it would be very hard to adjust to the lifestyle here but nothing of that sort happened,” she said.
Mecanovic previously attend a girls’ school where she had to wear a uniform. Now she is enjoying being at a co-ed school but is “getting annoyed with having to choose what to wear every day.”
Food has been an adjustment problem for Julia Arguello, a senior from Brazil and another member of the ECU women’s tennis team.
“Eggs and bacon are just too fatty for my stomach to handle and I don’t even need to talk about fast food,” she said.
Loh, too, contrasts the food of her home country with that in Ada.
“I miss my food a lot! The cafeteria has mostly junk food and I’m used to having many dish choices like seafood, rice, vegetables and dim sum (fish balls),” she said.
Loh has started exercising more and even started running to compensate for the unhealthy foods she sees in the American diet.
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Contributed by: Phydelca Thomas, senior from Jamaica; Ryan Dillard, senior from Ada; Julia Arguello, senior from Brazi; and Will Hogan, senior from Fittstown. All are students in the feature writing class at East Central University.