Students gather for weekly coffee break

Students from various countries, as well as those planning on studying overseas, gather weekly on campus to share insights, experiences and network. The Office of International Education and Exchange hosts the international coffee break every Wednesday at Aloha Java, located between University Hall and the Humanities-Social Sciences Building.
Photo by Kelly Lacefield

Making Adjustments

Weekly Coffee Break Offers Opportunity to Meet, Share Experiences

April 1, 2008
by Pamela McLaren

They are thousands of miles from family, friends and everything familiar, but one day a week, international students meet with fellow and future travelers to share experiences, make new friends and become a part of the campus community.

The Office of International Education and Exchange hosts an international coffee break every Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Aloha Java, located between University Hall and the Humanities-Social Sciences Building.

“I started the international coffee break because I was tired of hearing that CSUF was a commuter campus and that international students seem to not have a place to hang out and get connected with others,” said Jean Hotta, foreign student adviser in the International Education and Exchange Office. “When I was a student at another university, I was part of an international coffee break and I enjoyed it tremendously.

“I missed having international students gather informally, network, share stories, etc.,” Hotta added. “I wanted to create a space — both physical space as well as regular time — when students can do this. Students can very easily find a way to stay busy and not make time to slow down, stop, and ‘recharge’ by getting connected with others. Through the coffee break, I hope to have students — both domestic and international — experience sharing with others.”

Li Chuah agreed.

“The International Education Office tries to create a family atmosphere,” Chuah said. “I love being here.”

Chuah came from Malaysia two years ago to study child development and is now interning on a research project with Jie W. Weiss, assistant professor of health science.

During one particular Wednesday at the coffee break, Chuah runs into May Yap, who came to Cal State Fullerton from Malaysia two months ago. The two laugh and chat as if they have known each other a long time — they attended the same college at home — but only met when Yap arrived on campus.

A short distance away, Sardor Abdullaev of Kyrgyzstan works on homework, next to Daisy Zhao from China. Both students attended high school in the United States and are happy to be completing their college degrees at Cal State Fullerton.

“I like it here,” says Zhao. “When I came here as a freshman, it was a bit of an adjustment because the private high school I attended was small. It was slower to get to know people but I like the freedom of choosing my own classes.”

“One of the reasons I came here is that I saw the opportunity to have more freedom to do what I want,” said Abdullaev, a business administration major.

Abdullaev, whose family founded an organic bedding company, said the business “classes here are challenging, not just book smart. You have to use what you learn practically. That’s different from my country.”

Listening in is C.J. Bessey, a freshman art major who has applied to travel to Germany through California State University International Programs, and Mark Tran, a sophomore business administration major who hopes to go to Japan to study and immerse himself in the culture.

Christina Prusseit, a junior international business major from Germany, laughs as she hears Bessey talk about why he wants to go to her country. He will be attending Nuertingen-Geislingen University, where she came from.

Now in her second semester on campus, Prusseit said that although the German school system is different than what she has experienced on campus, it has caused her no difficulties.

“I’ve gotten a lot of support and the classes here are smaller, more personal,” she notes.

When she returns to Germany, “I will miss the international students and the International Student Association. I’ll miss the weather — and the beach — it's very cold at home right now,” she said.

Gracia Pardave, president of the International Student Association, is in her second year at Cal State Fullerton and highly recommends studying abroad. The senior international business major trom Peru said, “It’s a good learning experience, the international community here is very strong, very supportive.”


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