St. Olaf College welcomes about 60 new international students to campus each year. They come for a variety of reasons, but each of them arrives with hopes of getting to know American students and of developing lasting friendships. Social contact with Americans is one of the most important factors in an international student’s adjustment to college life. As an American roommate, you will have an opportunity to provide that support to either an international transfer or exchange student.
As you help your roommate learn about life at St. Olaf, you will enjoy the unique opportunity of learning about life in distant lands. As you teach new Minnesota vocabulary, you will no doubt learn to share certain foreign words and expressions that will bond the two of you in a special way. As you explain social customs, you yourself may gain a new understanding of American life. You will find that you are having a cross-cultural experience right here on campus.
Roommates for international students should be sensitive, caring people who understand the need for privacy, time for sharing and respect for differences. American roommates should be people whose emotional stability and desire for personal growth will enable them to provide a stable, supportive relationship for an international student. While international students do not have to be “taken care of,” many of them appreciate someone who meets them for dinner, makes an effort to go with them to campus events, or includes them in some day-to-day activities.
The Residence Life Office will be given a list of students wishing to have an international student roommate. Those students will receive specially marked room-draw time slips. They may select rooms in any hall; however, enough rooms will be held so they will be guaranteed a room, even if halls are “filled.” New first year, international students will be housed in first-year halls and are not part of this program. Please note that you might not know who your roommate is and where she/he is from until the end of the summer, when their attendance is confirmed.
We are looking forward to the arrival of a new group of international students next September and hope that you may want to share your college experience with these interesting students. If you have any questions, please contact the International Student Coordinator, Kelly Deutschman.