International numbers increasing
Laurinburg, NC - As the class of 2017 settles into the residence halls at St. Andrews University the number of students from foreign countries is significantly higher than in past years.
“In our freshman class alone we have 12 foreign countries represented,” said Campus President Paul Baldasare. “The pure number of students from foreign countries represents a 77 percent increase from a year ago.”
Junior transfer student Nora Darrhar arrived from France a week early to work with the volleyball team as an outside hitter.
"I'm the first international student on the volleyball team,” she said. “It’s a challenge. In the beginning I was so lost. I’m not good with English. The players are so nice and help me a lot. Some are trying to learn French but it’s not very easy.”
While she is the first international member of her team, other teams have a strong representation of international students. The men’s soccer team has 16 international students on the roster.
“The team has been very welcoming but it isn’t just the team,” said senior Daniel Acland of London, England. “The staff has been great. If there is anything I need there is always someone to go to.”
Acland transferred from a school in Georgia as did sophomore Caio Lima of San Paulo, Brazil.
“I came because of soccer,” Lima said. “I was playing at a school in Georgia but decided to transfer because the league had different rules. Everyone has been very helpful and welcoming.”
Soccer was also the most direct pull for junior Preston Rolle from Freeport, Bahamas. “There was a soccer clinic put on at my school and I became interested,” he shared. “I speak English pretty well so it is not so much an issue with the language but with the accents.”
“I had a friend here before and he recommended I come here,” shared Logi Maredi of Pretoria, South Africa. “The transition was easy because I had someone from back home here to help me adjust. I come from a big town and adjusting to the smaller community was the biggest challenge. But there are so many international students on campus that we have a bit of a community that you wouldn't expect in a small town."
Acland agreed, "We have been forming friendships with the team and with the community. There are so many international students here that we are able to form friendships in so many ways."
Fostering this kind of international friendly environment is a part of the St. Andrews culture, according to Dean of Students Glenn Batten.
“St. Andrews has a long tradition of providing students with an international experience,” Batten said. “We have several travel abroad programs, but it is also important to us that we provide students with an opportunity to meet people from other cultures in their own back yard.”
That effort has been well received by the group of international students interviewed as all agreed that they would recommend St. Andrews to friends.
“I would recommend to someone from home because all the schools in the Bahamas are small,” Rolle said. “With St. Andrews having a small community will make the transition easier than if they were to go to a big school.”