This year’s Celebrating Cultures event.
As I settle into my senior year at Arcadia, I am faced for the first time with a unique circumstance: this will be my first full year at Arcadia, as I have studied abroad every spring semester since my freshman year.
While happy to be back in the United States at least semi-permanently, I have had to come to terms with the fact that my academic year will not consist of packing my bags and traveling the world. And as the semester progressed, it became clear to me that if I didn’t find a way to maintain an international focus, I would eventually come to resent my time in Glenside.
Karaoke performance at the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Unwilling to let my senior year come to this, I took a good look at the activities offered around me that would allow me to stay connected to the global world while still studying in the small suburban town of Glenside. Thankfully, as co-president of the International Peer Associate’s League (IPALs), I didn’t have to look that far. This fall alone, we hosted the Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration, a New York City day trip, a sushi cooking class, and participated in Celebrating Cultures.
There are also ways to get to know international students on campus without joining IPALs. You can attend an informal language exchange, where you help non-native speakers practice conversational English. In turn you learn a new language, such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, or Arabic, among others.
Now that I live off campus, I have also looked to my community for international events. By talking with my neighbors in Mount Airy, I joined a Spanish language group of mostly middle-aged women looking to practice a language in their free time. On-campus organizations such as the Latinx, Spanish, and ASIA clubs provide an additional avenue for learning about cultures around the world, as well as their implementations in the U.S.
In the spring, I will go to Costa Rica as part of a Global Field Study course to study language revitalization. This is just another way that I can spend my semester focusing on another country—and I’m still able to travel, even if just for a short amount of time.
Since making the commitment to explore global learning in Glenside, I learned that even though I may be physically in the United States, that does not mean I am restricted to only American culture. There is a world full of cultures out there—and right here in Philadelphia.