One of the housing options that many from SUTD choose to take is the International House (or I-House) – an eight story building that caters specifically to international students. As part of the international experience, it’s a great place to stay if you want to meet people from around the globe.
Over the course of the summer programme, I kept a list of the different nationalities of people I’d met. In total? 30 different countries from Japan, Brazil, China, India to Peru, Bangladesh and Norway.
Weekly, the I-House offers a group of residents a $300 budget to showcase the food, music, games and trivia of their country. These “Coffee hours” were the highlight of the week!
The Games Room
The I-House includes a large games room with a foosball table and table tennis, and you can also rent a variety of board games and sports equipment from the front desk. During my free time, spending it playing with people from around the world is a great way to connect.
Many friendships were made by bonding over games. On the last night of my stay, I played Monopoly with a group of friends, one each from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Norway and Spain, while we discussed politics, the situation in our countries, and what life was like back home.
Hearing Life Stories
The greatest culture shocks certainly come from talking to Westerners, who are a lot more liberal than us Asians. I had a lot of fun picking the brain of extroverted Greek Life members, whom I only knew previously from what I watch in American TV shows.
The I-House also has many residents from Japan and South Korea. Although still greatly different, there is a sense of affinity with fellow citizens of Asian Tigers. Friends from Seoul and Tokyo offered to be a tour guide if I ever visit their city in the future.
Bridging Cultural Differences
Not only are the people around you from around the world, but many are older with more life experience and more wise. They also take a variety of majors and it is interesting to ask different people about the details of their studies, from psychology to real estate to literature.
Education is different around the world, with each unique university offering a unique perspective. It’s a great opportunity for anyone to be able to be exposed to such vast diversity.