Many N.C. State students dream about going to France, but on Thursday some students brought France to them. French students worked with the Office of International Services to showcase aspects of French culture and offered a taste of what students might experience in France.
To educate and excite program attendees, French volunteers offered French pastries to sample, display boards with information and the chance to learn a few French words.
Ibrahim Abubakari, a graduate student in business, helped some attendees with French pronunciation. Abubakari is one of 243 students at N.C. State from SKEMA, a French business school with campuses located around the world, and one of almost 300 students and faculty from France.
He grew up in Ghana where he learned to speak English and later moved to France for his undergraduate degree. Abubakari described how he always wanted to experience the “American life” and when the school offered him the opportunity, he took it.
“We jumped on board for school and to have fun, which sounds like the American way.” Abubakari said.
Abubakari said he was surprised to see how open American culture is.
“It’s not easy to open up to different cultures as French people.” Abubakari said.
However, while Abubakari found some aspects challenging, he noted the people he met were very friendly and welcoming. One aspect of American culture that was new to Abubakari is the abundance of sports and exercise facilities. He hopes to get a job in the human resources field after graduate school so he can stay in the United States.
Gui Mateus, a Brazilian international student majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering, was one of about 100 attendees at the event. Mateus said he decided it would be beneficial to his future career to learn English and French. He attended the French culture showcase to support the French friends with whom he practices his French.
Michael Ramos, a senior in political science, has worked with OIS for three and a half years. As an ambassador, Ramos greets international students that arrive each semester. Roughly 1000 international students arrive each fall and 200-300 in the spring.
According to Ramos, many international students have a difficult time experiencing American culture. Many students tend to cling to other international students from similar backgrounds.
Krishnan Ashwin, an Indian student pursuing a graduate degree in industrial engineering, was also in attendance. Ashwin received his undergraduate degrees in India and started working toward his graduate degree at N.C. State one month ago. Ashwin said the most difficult part of the transition was adjusting to the culinary differences within the American culture. However, he also said there is a drastic educational difference between American and Indian culture.
To bring together students of different backgrounds to celebrate French culture, Mathilde Descamps, a SKEMA student in international business, organized much of the cultural showcase. She said that although getting used to American food was difficult, she enjoys getting to meet friendly people at events like the showcase.
“Our main goal for this event is to make the general population of N.C. State students aware of the large number of French students on campus and that there is this opportunity to learn about their culture,” said Katarina Pantic, a communication assistant in the OIS.