Students create ways to stay in touch

International students unite together as they march during the Homecoming parade Oct. 1. The students each wore ensemble which symbolized their different cultures.

International students unite together as they march during the Homecoming parade Oct. 1. The students each wore ensemble which symbolized their different cultures.

Nate Billings

For the most part, graduation is a cause for student separation. However, when it comes to international students, separation can come early.

Whether a student has come for just a semester or for a full course of study, it is sometimes difficult for the students to depart back home.

“They become really close, but someday they need to leave,” said Yermek Zhakipzhanov, junior graphic arts major. “For international students, it’s hard.”

Zhakipzhanov said he has seen several people come and go during his time at Missouri Southern.

Another student, while not an international student, has also seen several of her friends leave after studying at Southern, but she has also come to find some benefits afterward.

“A lot of your friends went back to their own country,” said Katie Hargrove, junior international studies major. “Of course you’re sad, but I keep in contact.”

That contact helped Hargrove last summer when she went to Europe. There, she met up with two of her friends in Germany. She said by keeping in contact with her friends, she had a reliable place to stay.

“It’s still a living friendship even though they are 1,000 miles away,” she said. “They took me around. I got to see the other side of things. It made saying goodbye almost silly.”

Zhakiphanov said the friendships build from the proximate of the international students themselves.

“All international students try to stay together because they are foreigners here and they have at least that in common,” he said.

Trish Udell, adjunct professor with the Institute of International Studies and advisor to the International Club, said the students become close while studying for a short period of time.

“They really are like a family,” she said. “There’s a closeness because they are all in the same boat.”

To keep in touch, a yearbook is created for the international students so they have the names, home addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses for their friends. It is a printable list the students can access from the Southern server.

“At the end of the fall semester, we have a Middle East feast and farewell,” Udell said.

She said students who are leaving will give speeches and share memories among themselves.

“There are a lot of tears in the room,” she said.

Sometimes, the realization someone is going to leave doesn’t come until the last few days.

“You don’t have to say goodbye until the last day,” Zhakiphanov said. “Then they show up online.”

He said the toughest time is the last few days of the semester, when around eight to 10 students will be leaving.

Hargrove said the biggest comfort is having contact information available and knowing everyone feels the same also helps.

“It’s just a special bond they have,” Udell said. “