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    Math as an International Language

    Rulon Olmstead

    There is no better time in life than college to make some great international friendships. For me this all began in math class. Even though we have different backgrounds my friend from Indonesia and I can always get together to discuss math. Once our homework was done, we could always discuss other interests and hobbies. Having friends from around the world can really help you diversify and broaden your horizon, but it can be challenging. These five tips will help you make and keep friends from across the globe.

    Find an international language to relate to other people. Some things are universal such as a smile, music, art, games, and my personal favorite math. Common ground can be established if you try. You might have an international student in class, a great way to start a friendship is working together on homework. You might have a roommate from a different country, you can bond over an impromptu fashion show as you show each other your various styles of clothing. Maybe you meet someone new in the cafeteria, you can always talk about differences in culture and food between your two countries. Even talking about the weather can work, a simple question “what’s the weather like back home?” can lead to a longer conversation.

    Speak clearer not louder. Chances are your fellow students already know and speak English very well, but some international students who are learning English might struggle in some situations. Talking too loudly can be frustrating to international students and may make it appear that you are mad. Unless they actually have hearing loss, it is best to speak at a normal volume. If they struggle to understand you, try speaking clearer and avoid ambiguity and slang.

    Use clubs and other social activities. Making new friends can be hard no matter where you are they are from. Many schools have clubs or groups for specific cultures or languages.  Joining a club or going to various campus activities will provide great opportunities to mingle without making much effort to plan.

    Learn their culture, background, and language to any degree you are able. It’s fun sharing your culture with others but don’t be selfish. Taking time to learn about their culture will help you make a more genuine friendship. Learning their language (even just simple phrase and greetings) will give you another chance to bond, kind of like a secret handshake.

    Using social media is great for new friendships and key to making international friendships last. Consider all the ways you can communicate online. You can use pictures, emoji’s, video, audio, and even language translators. J Share your interests and pictures with new friends and pay attention to what they like, this will help you bridge the gap. We are all different but we also have a lot in common. Who doesn’t like cute cat videos or delicious snapshots of food? Being connected online is crucial to make your worldwide friendships continue after college. If your friend graduates and leaves the country normal text messaging and their student email might no longer work. Having other connections online will insure you can stay in touch.

    On a college campus you can have the opportunity to make friendships with individuals from very diverse backgrounds. Be open to this experience, and approach an international student, introduce yourself, say hello! You might be shy or find it awkward to approach someone new, but try to put yourself in the other student’s perspective: they want to make friends just like you, but they also are trying to embrace the new culture.

    So, whether it’s through technology, written, or spoken communication – have an open mind and use math as an international language!