Intern Insights: International Spotlight
Intern Insights allows current departmental interns to share their perspective on topics relevant to their experience as an undergraduate student.
Part 1 Hannah Hank
After my appointment as the manager of COMMunity Roar, the Department of Communication’s blog, I was challenged to present the perspective of international students on our campus. However, I can’t speak for 1295 undergraduate and graduate students currently on campus because of the myriad of factors that contribute to the experience of an international student attending Clemson University (Clemson University Office of Institutional Research, 2020). In the wake of 2020 and all that this unprecedented year brought, I won’t hesitate to disclaim: this is my personal take. See my glossary at the end of the text for Australian translations.
If you read the initial Meet the Interns post you would have a snippet of an insight into my life in Australia. I grew up in a coastal, country town called Port Lincoln–a half an hour from our family’s oyster farm/recently turned tourism business in Coffin Bay. My Mum and Dad, ironically, told my brother and I “the world is your oyster” when they gave us the opportunity to continue playing basketball and attend high school in the big smoke of Adelaide. In Adelaide we competed for our respective club teams every week, and our state team South Australia Metro in the Australian Basketball Championships each year whilst continuing our studies at Trinity College. The seven and a half hour distance between ball and school in the city, and our humble home in Lincoln made for a family challenge to adapt and sacrifice. Initially we moved as a family and Dad commuted for 3 years until Mum had to move home. With this change my brother and I started boarding with host families when I was 14. I will always be grateful for the opportunities that came from this experience in my teenage years. This experience helped my brother and I reach our goal to play division 1 basketball in the United States while studying. Now I get to continue to pursue my goals to play professionally and see where my education takes me post-basketball.
Connection is a word that gets thrown around a lot with respect to interpersonal relationships, sporting team’s chemistry, the dynamic in a workplace environment or the nostalgia that ties someone to their hometown. I think connection is often romanticized, and rightly so, because it really is so powerful. I will always think of Port Lincoln as my home and yet I stand corrected that you cannot have a similar connection to another location. I remember when I was moving 10, 246 miles across the world at 18 and my friends and family were throwing banter at me at the airport saying I better not come home saying “y’all” or blasting country music. I knew home to be home and it was irreplaceable to me, so even the thought of calling another place home left a sour taste in my mouth. I am happy I was wrong. Here I am, two years later and I already know Clemson will always have a special place in my heart too— as will Luke Combs and Morgan Wallen. I’ve learned that what they say is true. It’s not the place, as much as I love being by the water, but it is the people that make a place. I have really felt that here at Clemson.
I think a massive part of feeling at home is the Clemson family and specifically, the other international student athletes I have come to know and call great mates of mine. It is sort of a mutual nod when you watch another international’s eyes light up to an incoming facetime from home when time zones finally line up. Or sharing in the joy seeing them open a package from home like a kid on Christmas morning. It’s over homemade meals of foods you’ve never tried before. I cannot help but be grateful because they open your mind to different perspectives and cultures outside of the one you grew up in. I’ll always get a kick out of watching kids try vegemite (always a good laugh). Internationals have a shared connection of taking on the Unites States and understanding the challenges like homesickness, COVID-19 travel bans and wrapping your heads around grits and who thought it was a good idea to put a prawn in one (they belong on the barbie).
In the next International Spotlight, I will be continue this series sharing the perspectives of some of the incredible, talented, beautiful beings I have had the pleasure of meeting due to our shared connection as international students of Clemson University.
Local Terms/Phrases/Slang to Get Familiar With
Mum: Mom or Mother
Big Smoke: A city
Trinity College: In Australia it is common for private high schools to be called colleges
Year 12: Senior year of high school
Barbie: BBQ or Grill
Clemson University Office of Institutional Research, 2020.https://www.clemson.edu/institutional-effectiveness/oir/factbook/index.html
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