Northwest Indiana trends shock PNW international students

There’s a lot about Northwest Indiana that startles international students. 

The lifestyle and diet of Americans was definitely shocking,” said Harrison Hooper, a senior from Australia majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Foods and Nutrition

“The amount of fast-food restaurants is crazy and so is the amount some Americans eat at fast food restaurants,” he said. “Back home, I’d probably only eat out once or twice a month. ome people [I’ve seen] won’t ever even eat home-cooked meals and just eat out.”

Salma Raslan, a sophomore from Egypt majoring in Business Marketing, agrees with Hooper.

House food is a big one,” she said. “People tend to eat out all the time here, which is so different because that rarely ever happens back home.” 

Ryan Hayes, Australian born Assistant Director of International Admissions and Immigration services, understands the struggle when it comes to food.      

“We offer a neighborhood guide that shows many of the local places students can eat,” he said. “Students sometimes ask where a specific type of food can be located … There are many food and grocery stores that now deliver, or deliver with the assistance of food delivery companies. [It’s] really helpful to know and something I didn’t give much consideration to when I first moved to the U.S.” 

Margaux Catafort-Silva, a graduate student from France studying Electronic Computer Engineering, was surprised by American fashion – and how much of it there is. She recalls seeing her roommates’ closets at her old school, Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois. 

“My closet is full of actual fashion clothes, whereas for them it was more like sporty clothes,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh OK, that’s different’. I’ve never seen that many sports clothes before in a closet.

“You guys are more laid back … you guys will wear sweatpants and a hoodie or like … when I saw people going in pj’s to class, I was like ‘what is going on’,” Catafort-Silva said. “Or Birkenstocks with socks or just that kind of stuff to go to class … So that was very different.”

Weather is always a shocker.

Where I live in Australia (Sunshine Coast, Queensland), winter days can still be upwards of 70 degrees,” said Hooper, the Australian senior. “The year-round warm weather makes for plenty of time spent at the beach, surfing, swimming, playing spikeball or passing a footy with your mates.

“I had never seen snow before moving here, so the cold weather has taken some getting used to,” he said. “Don’t be fooled though, I still haven’t adjusted and never will.”

Fellow Australian, Hayes, recognizes the difficulty adjusting to the cold. 

“When spending extended periods of time outdoors during the colder months, layering is a great piece of advice that I received,” he said. ”Having come from a climate where it doesn’t get as cold as it does here, layering clothes was very helpful.”

But one student said there is a difference she really enjoys: freedom.

The biggest difference is life in general and the rhythm of a normal day,” said Raslan, the sophomore from Egypt. “Here … there is always something going on, which is a very good thing and helps you not think of the fact [that] I’m halfway across the world.

“It was just weird … when I came to realize how much of a free country it is,” she said. “Anything you feel like doing is valid, no one really judges you on anything. There’s just a lot of freedom in general in a person’s day-to-day life.”