Bridge the gap: My experience rooming with an international student

Sierra Staatz (right), sophomore in chemical engineering, poses for a self with her roommate, Rebecca Sutcliffe, an exchange student in biochemistry. (Courtesy photo by Sierra Staatz)

When people come to campus living in the dorms, many students opt for a ‘potluck’ choice for their roommate, which is essentially being paired with a random roommate. Sometimes, once being randomly assigned, the roommates contact each other.

It was no surprise that my new roommate emailed me. However, what was contained in the email was unexpected:

“To: Sierra Staatz

From: Rebecca Sutcliffe

Hi! I’m an exchange student from the UK…”

This came as a surprise, but it has been a wonderful change in what was expected. We wanted to call to get to know each other over the summer, which can be difficult with a six-hour time difference to account for.

As I have learned from her, some differences between her original university and K-State includes our recreation center that is open to all students and the large amount of social activities throughout campus. Dorms are also quieter here in Kansas; however, at her institution single rooms are much more standard.

Also, to no surprise, there is less talk about Brexit here.

While being from different places, we have our similarities. Both of us love cats and life sciences.

She and I are biochemistry and chemical engineering majors, respectively. So, as we were both avoiding working on chemistry lab reports, I sat down with her and asked her a few questions:

What is something that is very different?

“Driving on the right side of the road and sitting in the passenger seat on the right side. It felt so strange. So weird. It felt like I need a steering wheel.”

Is the food different?

“Chocolate is too sweet, but it also does not have as rich of a chocolate flavor, because the cocoa butter content it lower. In the dining hall, I find the deep-fried chicken too salty. The donuts here are better, though. The ones from Kramer.”

As a chocolate lover, she brought some chocolate from her home to the United States.

What’s something nice about K-State?

“I actually really love that there’s not smoking allowed on campus.”

What are some common questions people keep asking you?

“Brexit — actually no, I get a lot of questions about ‘how are you finding it here?’”

To learn more about students from other countries, the International Student and Scholar Services holds “International Coffee Hours.” There, international students present a culturally-enriching experience about their countries’ culture, history and politics. All coffee hours are held on Fridays from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the International Student Center. For more information, see the International Student and Scholar Services’s website.

Sierra Staatz is a sophomore in chemical engineering. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to