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3 Things International Students are Sick of Hearing at OU

By Ada Castro
On March 14, 2016


Photo by Rodney Latham

The international population at Ottawa University is limited, small and diverse. But if there is one thing that all international students have in common, it is the things we are tired of hearing.

1. Yes, we know we have an accent.

You might think it is cute, but some of us actually work really hard in sounding somewhat American. Especially because of the discrimination we face in the different aspects of the professional world.

Every time someone goes, “OMG, can you say *insert word* again, your accent is the cutest” one of our brain cells dies a little. When I hear someone using the wrong past participle version of the verb, I don’t correct them because, guess what? IT’S NONE OF MY BUSINESS – and it should not be yours, either.

Don’t get me wrong, we really appreciate when someone corrects one of our words, because it is important to always improve our English. But there is a time, a way and a place to do so. Calling me out when I am telling a story I am really excited about in front of my friends is not the best place.

So, next time you want to compliment someone’s accent because you do think it is exotic and beautiful, be sensitive about it!


2. No, not all Latinos are Mexicans.

My dear people, we must educate ourselves about the different countries that exist in this huge world. Our cinnamon-colored skin, deep dark eyes and hair are not necessarily part of Mexico.

Mexico is only one country out of 20 diversely spread nations in Latin America. The same way you don’t like being called Canadian or English only because of your language, we don’t like to be called Mexicans – unless we are from there, then it’s OK.

OU has had Latin American students from El Salvador, Uruguay, Paraguay, Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the list goes on! Don’t limit yourself, getting to know where these students are from could be a great experience.


3. We didn’t get here riding a horse.

The most common question is, “How did you get here? – did you take a plane?” Let’s face it people: America is not the only modern country on this planet. I could imagine if someone from Mexico was asked that question due to the geographical proximity, but asking a Scottish (or any other nationality for that matter) student how they got here is just absurd.

I am not saying that it is not possible for someone to cross two continents on a boat or a car, but as I said earlier, we must educate ourselves a little of the cultural aspects of more countries around the world. Flying is a common thing nowadays, let me tell ya.


Lesson of the day…

So, here is the deal: I am not saying that asking questions is wrong. By all means: ask questions, be curious, show interest. However, you need to show some cultural sensitivity while doing so. It is normal for people to want to get to know better the customs of exotic (for you) countries.

Just read a little so you don’t offend someone’s culture. Or say, “I would love to ask you a question, please don’t be offended I just really don’t know…” Give us a heads-up, and we will be pleased to tell you about our gorgeous countries! 

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