International Students Find Welcoming Community at Otterbein

Posted Feb 09, 2024

By Izzy Winter ’25

Each year Otterbein hosts students from around the world to study on campus. In recent years international students from China, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, France, Taiwan, and other nations have come to Otterbein for a new experience.

What these students often discover is an experience unlike their universities back home.

“I really like the close-knit family feel at Otterbein,” says Ellen Fegan from Northern Ireland. “It’s crazy how close everyone is here. At home, the stigma is that Americans are rude. At Otterbein that is just not true.”

Fegan says Otterbein has given her a warm and welcoming experience. The schooling and homework, however, are quite different.

Yang Shi-Min from Taiwan agrees.

“Homework assignments here are a little bit heavy. In Taiwan, you do a lot of group projects. Students in a group must present that chapter,” Yang said, “Professors here want to see if students really understand the content. In Taiwan, professors think that learning is your business and it’s the student’s responsibility to understand.”

China’s Li Yuting also finds education is different here.

“My major is studio art and we do some things ourselves and if you ask the teacher, he will give you advice and you take it or not. You also talk about your classmates’ work,” Li said. “In China you give your homework to the teacher and the teacher will say you have to make changes.”

While most international students make Otterbein their home — with host families providing comforts like home-cooked meals and holiday celebrations — many say they miss certain aspects of their home country.

“I miss the food and ease of travel the most,” Li said. “In Shanghai we have the Underground. Travel is less convenient here — everyone has cars. At home, everyone uses the Underground to go to work or school.”

And for some, there are other — more surprising — reasons to miss home.

“I bought a new pair of shoes here and they were so expensive,” Yang said. “Then when I got them home, I saw they were made in China! That was so funny. Everything here is made in China.”