Miles Apart

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Miles Apart

International students stand in front of the Commons before the first week of school begins.

International students stand in front of the Commons before the first week of school begins.

Photo by Courtesy of Ellen Blauw

International students stand in front of the Commons before the first week of school begins.

Photo by Courtesy of Ellen Blauw

Photo by Courtesy of Ellen Blauw

International students stand in front of the Commons before the first week of school begins.

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It was always Eduard Zeledon’s dream to study in the United States. 

A sophomore in the College of Engineering, Zeledon is from Nicaragua, about a 1,790 mile plane ride from Milwaukee. He says he is excited to meet new people in a new place.

To be honest, I feel like I am the exception. I was really excited to come,” Zeledon says. He says he believes other international students may feel more nervous before coming to an unfamiliar place.

Ellen Blauw, the assistant director of the Office of International Education at Marquette, says 45% of the Marquette community is from outside of the United States. She says the university hopes to continue to increase that number. 

Blauw says international students are invited to an early orientation to “help get their feet on the ground.” The orientation runs Monday to Wednesday the week before classes begin first semester and Blauw says current international students are also invited to talk about their experiences.

She says the goal is to “set the stage to make it their home.”

Sharon Yu, a graduate student in Student Affairs and Higher Education, completed her undergraduate education at Loyola University Chicago. For Yu, coming to the United States for school was a dream.

“It was a whole new educational system, pushing for innovation and being a leader in academia,” Yu says.

She says she came to Marquette for graduate school because she believes Marquette students are very involved and take their academics seriously.

Yu says it took her awhile to find her place at Marquette. She called Marquette a “new beginning to navigate … I feel like I was back in square zero.”

Yu and Zeledon both say they began to find their place at Marquette through the relationships they formed. 

Zeledon was in the Engineering Living Learning Community in The Commons during his freshman year. He calls the LLC a “really big family,” and says everyone helped each other with homework. 

Blauw says freshmen and sophomore international students live in the dorms. “Resident assistants are very attuned to diversity issues. We have worked with them in RA training for inclusive community,” she says.

Yu says it is important for her to share parts of her culture with her friends.

“It really comes down to finding the right people. I found friends in my cohort I can really be honest with and can share parts of my culture with,” she says.

Both Yu and Zeledon have found niches at Marquette to become involved in. Zeledon is the secretary of Tabletop Club, a group that meets Tuesdays to play board games and eat pizza. This year, he helped plan the club’s table at O-Fest and helped find more people who may be interested in Tabletop Club.

Yu is the assistant hall director for the Evans Scholar House and says she often goes out to dinner on special holidays in her culture with friends.

While Zeledon has not been back to Nicuargua since starting school, Yu goes home most summer breaks and every Christmas break.

Yu says she hopes the Marquette community continues to work to see the uniqueness of different cultures. 

Although being in a new place was difficult for Yu at first, it opened up new opportunities in the long run.

“It pushed me to develop a sense of self-efficacy, ” she says. “That continues to what is important to me and what community I want to see. I wish to see a more inclusive community in more differences people bring in,” Yu says.

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