"We were finding a lot of international students saying it was difficult to make friends with U.S. students, so we wanted something to facilitate that interaction, but we didn't want it to be completely forced," says Liz Kruse, adviser for international student and scholar services.
International students deal with a variety of obstacles that can serve as barriers to new friendships, Kruse notes, especially if they struggle with English.
"There are lots of cultural things that go into making friends and making conversations—what's appropriate to say when you're first getting to know someone," she says. "People like to be able to go back and forth really quickly, and international students don't always have those language skills to converse so quickly."
Though adjusting to language and cultural differences can make the first month or so at college feel overwhelming, Danish student Simon Sangaard says interactions get easier with time. Now, he's so accustomed to life at Macalester that country of origin doesn't define the peers he hangs out with, he says.
"The group of friends I have here is very mixed, and I don't really think of them as being American or international," Sangaard says. "I just have a group of friends here, and they happen to be from Lithuania or Sweden or the U.S."
For more international student tips and news, explore the Studying in the United States center.