On New Year’s Day of 2010, I landed in Indianapolis for the very first time. I vividly remember when I took my first step out of the airplane. That moment I was worried about how I was going to adapt to a new continent, one that was completely unfamiliar to me. Now more than 5 years later, I am getting ready to graduate from college in December. Just like all the other international students, I came to the U.S in order to get a college degree. I have faced many challenges such as homesickness, cultural differences and language barriers. In other words, I had various forms of culture shock. Nevertheless I could have never overcome these obstacles and successfully progressed through college if it wasn’t for the kindness and hospitality of the people in Indiana!
I never heard of the term “Hoosier Hospitality” until I began my internship here at The International Center, but even prior I knew how Hoosiers are kind and generous. There was one instance that surprised me greatly, one that made me begin to realize how caring Hoosiers really are.
Back in 2014, when I was driving back to school after flying back from South Korea I realized that my cellphone was nowhere to be found. Turns out I left it at the Indianapolis airport. Luckily I put my email address on the top of the phone screen so a few days later I received an email from a man who said that he found my phone at the airport and asked for verification that he was reaching the correct person. Later he told me that his wife worked at a hospital by my university. This hospital happened to only be 3 minutes away from my apartment! When I met his wife at the hospital, she handed me my phone and attached a nice letter to it. I was very impressed and appreciative of
their kindness and hospitality.
|Moon (left) with his American friends|
Other than that couple’s kind gesture, most of my American friends that are from Indiana relay similar characteristics of being extremely caring. Before coming to the U.S, I thought that I was not going to find a true friendship in a foreign country but now, after these experiences, I realize that not only is it possible to build a lasting friendship with different nationalities, backgrounds and ethnicities, but it also has enlightened my experience. After starting my internship, I could feel “Hoosier Hospitality” even more deeply here at The International Center. For more than 40 years, The International Center has helped Indiana to become one of the friendliest states to incoming international expats. During my time at The Center, I have had opportunities to attend many different seminars and services that The Center provides to international newcomers and professionals such as the Orientation Program for International Employees (OPIE) sessions and cultural trainings. I believe that the OPIE sessions are very helpful to those who are worrying about how they going to adapt themselves to a totally unfamiliar continent. OPIE sessions take about half the day and are regularly scheduled within the first couple weeks of arriving. OPIE sessions begin with an overview of U.S workplace culture followed by protocol tips for business and social interactions. Then there are opportunities to get involved within the community and develop a local network. I have found that these sessions are extremely helpful to expats as they build their fresh professional network.
There are times that I wish I could have had the opportunity to attend an OPIE session or other services that The International Center provides which would have made my transition an easier one. But with the help and kindness of Hoosiers I would not have been able to be where I am today. So I would like to thank you for your “Hoosier Hospitality” or as we say in Korea “감사합니다 (Kam sa hap ni da)!”
By Moon Seung Yeon, China Project Intern