Host Liz Pope sits down with Murilo Artese and Lauren Holt to cover life as an International student in Boone, what studying abroad really looks like, and the role INTAPP plays in the Appalachian community.
Liz Pope: Hey everyone, this is Liz Pope. You’re listening to AppX. Today our topic is INTAPP, and with me I have Murilo Artese and Lauren Holt and they’re going to introduce themselves...
Lauren Holt: My name is Lauren Holt, I am a fourth year student currently at Appalachian. I’ve been involved in International Appalachian since my first semester on campus, so this is my fourth year I guess it would make it. I am a Spanish and Global Studies student, and I’ll be graduating in May.
LP: Congrats! You made it!
LH: Thank you!
Murilo Artese: Hello, my name is Murilo Artese, I’m from São Paulo, Brazil, so I’m an international student, and I’m degree seeking, so I’m here for the four years. I’m a sophomore right now, Broadcasting major and English minor, and I’ve been involved with INTAPP since my first semester here, so it’s going to be about two years, and I’m going to be the president next year which is really exciting!
LP: Yeah! Congrats, that’s so great!
LP: Alright, getting to the basics. What is INTAPP? What is the acronym? What does it stand for?
MA: It stands for International Appalachian, so INTAPP for short, that’s what we’re known for.
LP: Okay, great. What does your organization strive to do for international students?
LH: So, we have three goals that we normally like to bring ourselves back to, to hold ourselves accountable to, and those include: getting more Appalachian students to study abroad, really promoting study abroad, scholarships and opportunities and changes and anything like that. And then, we also like to try and bring more international students here to Appalachian, and in order to do that, in order to make that transition smooth for them we have International Appalachian, which is a group that throughout the year hold different events that sort of connect the two groups: domestic and international students through events. Our biggest events are Culture Crawl, that sort of showcases all of the different organizations and cultural--culturally diverse clubs on campus, and we try to get the Boone community involved as well by getting donations from restaurants and things like that. We have a yearly 5K and that is normally in the spring semester. So it’s a really fun way to kind of get yourself connected.
LP: Yeah, that sounds great! How was that from your perspective, Murilo, when you came in?
MA: So, actually INTAPP was the first organization, and students on campus, that I ever got a chance to interact with because as soon as the international students get here, INTAPP offers airport pick up, so they go pick up the international students at the airport, which is really awesome. Because I was an exchange student before, I got a chance to visit a couple of friends before I got to Appalachian, and they were there waiting for me, just to start international orientation, so it was good to have friendly faces ready to help me out for whatever reason I need to. So, I remember the first thing that they do which is really helpful, they take all of the international students to WalMart, and it’s already like a culture shock, because WalMart, whoa! You can buy stuff here like this? There’s everything! It’s amazing. It’s a lot of fun because they come with us and they help us buy things that we’re going to need throughout the semester and throughout the year, and all of the events we promote throughout the year, they invite all of the international students and they make sure that they’re doing okay and that they get to showcase their culture. I know with an event that INTAPP promotes that’s called Global Exchange, it happens every last Wednesday of the month, and they invite International students to teach a dance to people. Yeah, the dance professors here at App, they actually give extra credit if some of the students come and I got to teach a Brazilian dance called Forró and it was super awesome because a lot of people came and we had some Brazilian food, so it was a good time to show my culture and a thing of my culture to people and they had a good time and I got a lot of good feedback from people.
LP: Yeah! That’s awesome. I have to ask, what was your personal first impression of WalMart? What was that like for you?
MA: Oh, my first impression of WalMart. It was awesome! I love to buy stuff, I’m guilty of that, and I wanted to spend hours and hours in there just looking for things. I remember I think the first thing I ever purchased I still own, and I still wear to this day. It was a Justice League pajamas, and I love it, and it’s falling apart but I’m still going to wear it until I can’t anymore.
LP: Thank you WalMart, thank you. I love it. Sweet so how did--Murilo I know it’s clear how you got involved with INTAPP--how did you (Lauren) get involved? What really drove you to join it?
LH: Yeah! So before I came to school here, I took a bridge year actually in Ecuador, I was living there for a year. Someone who was at high school with me had done the same bridge year program, and she was actually the president of International Appalachian at the time that I was going to be coming to Appalachian. So she was telling me, as we connected through our bridge year programs, she was telling me all about International Appalachian, how it really helped her to adjust to Appalachian as she came here from--I think she was in Guatemala for her year--so she was telling me a lot about that and she said that she thought that I would be a really good fit, so when I got here, that was the first club that I sought out, and I applied for it and it was probably one of the best clubs I’ve ever joined in my life, so it worked out really well.
LP: That’s awesome! Good, it’s clear that it’s made an impact on you, and I know you decided to go abroad during your time in school. How much did INTAPP have an influence on you doing that?
LH: It actually had a really big influence. So, I studied abroad in Chile, and I was there for six months, actually a year ago in the Spring of 2016. So throughout the years that I had met international students coming to Appalachian, I had met a lot of Chilean students, and they were telling me all about their school, all about how beautiful their country was, and they were the ones that I was probably the closest with in most of the groups, for whatever reason, I’m not sure why. So, I guess just throughout different semesters of hearing how awesome it was--
LP: You were hooked.
LH: I was pretty stoked to go and see what it was like. So it was nice. It was a really cool experience, it was an awesome experience.
LP: So, what kind of classes did you take while you were there?
LH: So, all of my classes were in Spanish, but they were only with international students. So, you had the option of taking two different classes. You could have taken classes with Chilean students or just with international students. But, it’s really interesting because their campus is set up so that it’s all over the city.
LH: So you could have had one class that was 45 minutes away in a completely different part of the city. So for that reason, my schedule didn’t really work out. The classes that I needed, the hours didn’t work out for me to go from one side of the city to the next. So, I ended up just staying on one campus and taking all international classes.
LP: Very cool! I’m sure that really helped your Spanish.
LH: It did a lot!
LP: Are you fluent?
LH: I feel like I can always learn more. I wouldn’t say that I’m fluent, but I’m very comfortable in it.
LP: Good! That’s great. So did you keep in touch with INTAPP while you were abroad? Was there a relationship that was still there while you were in Chile or was it mostly they helped you get there, and then you were kind of out there in Chile?
LH: Yeah! So we work directly with the Office of International Education and Development, so in that sense I was still connected just because they were the ones who helped me a lot with my courses, they made sure that I was getting all of my credits. But in terms of International Appalachian Members, I mean a lot of my friends are in that group, so I stayed in touch with a lot of them just because of that. But, every once and awhile they would give you a shout out and say like “Hey we’re thinking of you!” or I know now we do different things like we try to send videos to people abroad, or letters, or something like that. So, it’s nice, you still feel connected.
LP: That’s great! Do you guys have someone you’d like to give a shout out to really quick in INTAPP.
MA: There’s someone abroad and in INTAPP, who I want to give a shout out to. Mariela!
LH: Yeah! Mariela! Hey Mariela! She’s in Chile right now, too.
LP: Love it!
MA: And she’s there for a year. So she’s been there, what? Since…
LH: Since July!
LP: Wow. That’s a long time. When is she coming back?
MA: That is a long time.
LH: She comes back in June...so I’m pumped.
LP: Aw...love it. That’s great. So you guys mentioned earlier about the Office of International Education and Development, can you talk a little bit more about how that plays a role in INTAPP?
MA: Yeah! So we actually work really closely with OIED, which is an acronym for the Office of International Education and Development, and they are the office that if any Appalachian Student wants to go study abroad, then you have to go through that office. Every international student goes through that office as well. So, we have an advisor who works there, her name is Karen and she is our contact for the group and the office, and they are awesome to help connect students as soon as they get there, helping us put up the international orientation and help them make the students feel like this is their home away from home, and also making sure they understand how their Visas work, and what they are allowed to do, and not allowed to do, and stuff like that. But also, every student that wants to go study abroad, INTAPP is more of a student perspective of studying abroad and how they can talk to someone who has been to Chile like Lauren, and she can share her experience and convince someone to go study abroad, but then after she did her job of convincing someone, they have to go through the OIED office, so they will speak with someone about the different programs that go to Chile, and then also they can speak to someone to see all of the classes that they are going to have to take there, so they don’t waste time abroad and actually come back and transfer the credits, and are still able to graduate on time. So, OIED will look over all of your list of classes and everything you have to do so your experience abroad is adding to your college career and not delaying it or anything.
LP: Good. I know that’s a huge deterrent for people is not thinking they’re going to be able to graduate if they go abroad. So that’s really comforting to know that there’s someone out there designed to help make sure that doesn’t happen. And going abroad can be scary! For the first time, going into a different culture or coming to America, so that’s awesome that they have things in place to help people with that.
LH: Absolutely. Yeah, and in addition to that in the Office of International Education and Development, I’m an Education Abroad Ambassador, so those are students who have been abroad that work closely with the Office of International Education and Development, separate from INTAPP, but sort of similar--it’s a student perspective on studying abroad as well. I know during the week we have walk-in hours for people who just have questions about their applications, questions about their program that they’re looking into, and that’s sort of a chance for students to connect one on one. The walk-in hours are always done with somebody who has been abroad, so they have a couple of suggestions, or they have advice or answers for the students, and then if not then the offices of--the heads of OIED--those are right around the corner so we can always ask them, too. I guess it’s the offices of the professionals who know more than us. So that’s a really cool experience as well, to be a part of that.
LP: Where is that? So people know.
LH: It is on the third floor of the Student Union, so if you enter coming in from the side of Summit Hall, you’re just going to go up the stairs to three floors and it’s the first office directly on your right.
MA: Yeah, it’s room 321, pretty easy to remember because it’s a countdown.
LH: Yep! Pretty easy.
LP: It’s a countdown, sweet!
MA: Another aspect is the finances, like if people are able to afford, and OIED actually offers seven different scholarships for people to go study abroad.
MA: And the cool thing that a lot of people don’t know about is that you don’t have to have a program set up to go study abroad, you can apply to the scholarships, and once you apply you fill up the application, you are eligible for all of the scholarships. So, if your application is really good, you go for the most money, so it’s awesome. So let’s say you don’t have a program, and you apply, and then if you get the scholarship you have a year to use that scholarship to go study abroad. Then, you can set up a program and in that year study abroad, so if you just want to study abroad and finances are the defining term--like if I get the scholarship I’ll go study abroad, if not, I wont--then you can apply and you get the scholarship, and get ready to go study abroad.
LP: Cool! That’s great!
LH: Yeah! Kind of going along with finances and that aspect of study abroad, as Murilo said, that money is just kind of sitting there. It’s just waiting for people to take advantage of, and I think a lot of people don’t know that it’s there for them. In addition to that, there are so many programs that, like the program that I study abroad with, I paid the exact same amount that I’m paying for Appalachian State tuition, I continue to pay Appalachian throughout my time in Chile, my scholarships didn’t change, my financial aid did not change, so everything just kind of freezes while you get to go and experience something completely different.
LP: That’s great!
LH: So that part of it is really nice, and really convenient.
LP: Good! That’s really good to know. Sweet! Murilo, what is the cost of you being in America? That’s kindof a lot.
MA: A lot of people think it’s like oh my gosh, what is the process like for out of country students, and it’s actually just the same price as out of state.
LH: Out of state? Out of country?
MA: It’s a little more than if you’re in state, but the hardest thing is--in Brazil we have a different currency it’s real--so to transfer that money and everything is a little complicated, but I’m working my way through it. You know, getting through and paying every semester, so it’s not what people think that it’s so different, it’s just out of state.
LP: Cool! What do you guys do on a daily basis in INTAPP? What are some of your--
MA: Yeah! So everyone in the group has a leadership position which is I think is really awesome. So, you’re going to get in the group and you’re going to have a position, so you’re going to have something to do sometime this semester, you’re going to have something that is your own. I am currently the Vice President, so I take care of some of the exec and stuff, but before I was INTAPP Relations so I made sure to organize events to bring the group together outside of our meetings. So I would organize dinners, after our meetings and events for us to do, stuff like that. I was also the videographer, so I was planning videos to do with INTAPP members and international students to put on our YouTube channel, so new international students will see those videos and be like “Oh my gosh, I want to go there! That’s pretty cool!” So that was a fun time and so in our meetings we always go through the upcoming events, and how everyone is doing, because we have different committees, so we have a committee time and discuss how everyone is going. We have PR, business, social, outreach, and we all discuss how everything is going and always getting prepared for the next event.
LP: Cool, great! So either of you, how has INTAPP really impacted your education as far as at App?
MA: INTAPP has changed my college career, and I think my life forever. I got to do a lot of different things this past year. So there’s a week in November calling International Education week, which is a national event where Universities split up this whole week of events celebrating international education, and Appalachian does that as well. I got to sit on the committee organizing the whole week, so it was a lot of fun to have my input in there, and to see the week coming together, and how everything went down. I also got to sit down with a committee grading these scholarships for people to go study abroad, so it was really cool to read why so many students want to go study abroad and then be able to grade the scholarship and see who got the scholarships, and now they are going abroad and I am one of the reasons why they are there, and help out with that. So, it’s really awesome, and has opened my eyes to so many different things like helping the international students, and just helping students who go abroad and showcase how important it is to get to know other cultures and how awesome it is to realize, yes there is a lot for you to do here, but the world is so big that it’s awesome that we can go out and visit it and learn about it and come back and share that experience.
LP: Yeah, that’s great. I know you went abroad...that’s definitely a huge impact on your education.
LH: Yeah, I mean I completely agree with everything you just said Murilo. It provides you with a completely different perspective, you find parts of that culture that are similar to your own and ones that are extremely different. Being able to make those connections and find that you are living in a place that is completely different and outside of your comfort zone is such an incredible learning experience that books can’t teach you, that a class in your home country can’t teach you. And it’s just being able to, for me it was really living out the experience of things that I had studied for the past four years.
MA: And just to add to that, I’m sure you can second this Lauren, but I as an international student coming abroad, I just know a lot more about myself and my country and my own culture than I ever thought I did. I got asked questions about Brazil and I’m like, I’ve never thought about this! People are like, “oh my gosh, you have the TV shows and the same movies,” and I’m like “yeah, of course I do,” but they don’t know that. So it’s cool to showcase that and think about my culture in a way I’ve never thought before.
LP: Yeah, that’s perfect. That kind of leads me to my next question. What do you guys think about the importance of having an internationally diverse campus especially at App, and how do you think INTAPP has really impacted that as far as bringing students in?
MA: I think it’s extremely important. One, a lot of people are worried about careers and their resume, so if you go study abroad or have an experience abroad, knowing another culture builds up your resume so highly, so it’s such a good thing for your resume. Just for life experiences, it’s amazing because you get to know a lot more about your culture and someone else’s culture, and to learn that. At Appalachian I remember when I visited this campus for the first time, so I was an exchange student my senior year of high school, and I came on a campus tour and I walked by the International Hallway, and I saw a Brazilian flag up there and I was like, “this is so cool that I can see my flag right here in a university in the United States” and that was one of the things that just blew me away, like this campus has something special with it. So INTAPP definitely has an impact of bringing international students here, and adding flags up there every semester. So, I think this is really important.
LP: Yeah, so for everyone listening, the hallway in the Student Union has flags of every country that someone has come to App from or studied abroad in?
MA: Yeah, so any faculty or student from that country that is here right now, or someone from Appalachain that is working or studying in that country right now.
LP: And there’s a ton of flags for everyone who wants to know.
MA: And actually, they cannot put up every single flag up there because of the Fire Department, so they have to switch it every semester.
LP: So it’s fair! So, how would someone want to get involved with INTAPP and they were interested in joining, what would that look like for them?
LH: So, for the application process, we’re a university funded organization so we have a cap on how many people we can bring into the club each semester. So we have an application process, normally it’s every semester, in the past sometimes it’s only been in the fall semester, that’s normally the time we get the most applications. But, spring and fall semester there’s an application that gets reviewed by all International Appalachian members, and from there we contact you about an interview, and then a group interview, there’s also a mixer in there before the interview. It’s kind of like a time where you can just hangout really casually with people and talk about your interests, and what led you to apply to INTAPP, stuff like that. So we have that, the interviews, and the group interviews, and from there that’s how we do it. It’s cool, it’s a really awesome way for you to show us what makes you want to be a part of International Appalachian, it gives you an opportunity to work in a group setting to kind of show your skills, and also for us to see you in the spotlight during your individual interview.
LP: So, as far as coming to America or going to Chile, what was a big culture shock for either of you when you got here?
LH: So for me going to Chile, obviously we live in Boone, so it’s a mountain town. The city that I was living in Valparaiso and Vina del Mar, those are not small towns, they’re pretty big, and they are on the ocean instead of in the mountains so, it was just a complete change of scenery. There was always movement between the metro running between buses running between cars honking at each other. The apartment that I lived in was right along a main street so I could always hear traffic, so for me it was hard to sleep for the first couple of days because it was just such a change in environment and for me I’ve always said, “I like the mountains, the mountains are my place, I could never live at the beach.” But, I grew to really love the ocean, and being that close to it was such a blessing and such a cool thing because whenever I need to de-stress or decompress here I normally go for a hike, whereas there, I would go and buy an empanada and I would sit on the rocks and there were these huge sea lions that were right next to my school and they are the goofiest creatures, they’re so huge and floppy, and sometimes mean, but playful too! I don’t know. So, it was nice to just be able to go and sit by the water and kind of relax and do that same kind of thing that I do here. It’s very different, but you find pieces--you always find your spot wherever you are, you know? Even if it takes some adjusting, you learn different things about yourself. For me, I’ve always been somebody who’s never really been comfortable with silence. I’m always, I would always just make conversation even if it was just talking about the weather, something as trivial as that, I was just never good with silence. But, being in a country where nobody really speaks English, it’s harder to make that tiny conversation, it really taught me how to be quiet and just to listen, and that conversation isn’t always necessary, and you actually learn an equal amount, if not more, from being silent and just taking things in.
LP: I love that, that’s great. Sweet.
MA: So beautiful.
LP: So beautiful. Do you have a favorite sea lion that you would go look at?
LH: Yeah! So, I don’t know, I couldn’t tell if it was the same sea lion every time, but they were all just so equally fat. But, there was one sea lion--they had this dock that they would kind of take over--and there was one that just wanted the most sun, that wanted the most space, that wanted the most--
LP: Greedy sea lion.
LH: Yeah, it was the most greedy sea lion you’ve ever met. The greediest I guess. So that one would always push off other ones.
MA: Don’t you hate that when you meet a greedy sea lion?
LP: The worst.
LH: Yeah, greedy sea lions man, what’s going on?
LP: That’s amazing.
LH: But, it was fun to see the interactions. It was really interesting, and something you definitely can’t find in Boone.
LP: Definitely not!
MA: If you found a sea lion here in the mountains, you would be like, “what is happening?”
LH: We have turkeys and stuff...but not sea lions.
LP: No sea lions. So Murilo, how about being in America?
MA: So, I remember my first culture shock, and it’s going to sound pretty bad, but it was actually twerking. When I saw the first person twerking in front of me, I just froze! I didn’t know how to react. I was like, “what’s going on?” It was pretty bad, it was intense, I don’t know, I still am still amazed until this day. I don’t twerk, FYI. But, I saw that and a lot of people were doing it and I just didn’t know how to do it or how to react to that. So, I just froze there and didn’t really enjoy myself at all, but that was my first culture shock with America. Because, Brazil is not that different from America, we have the same TV shows and movies, and stuff like that. But, being here and seeing people do things, it was like, “Whoa! This is actually true. This is amazing me.”
LP: Different dance moves here in America.
MA: It was just like, “What do I do? I don’t belong here.” But, it definitely got me out of my comfort zone, and being in America I learn a lot more about myself. I grew up in a small town in Brazil, so I went to middle school with the same people and high school with the same people. Most of my family live in that town, so I have always seen the same faces over and over again. So, there was not a lot of room for changes, and because I grew up with the same people, I started second guessing myself like, “Am I a nice person? Or do these people just like me because I grew up with them?” So, coming to America definitely made me realize how my personality is, and I’m a people person, and I love talking, I love hanging out, and I realized I love making friends, and I am easy-going and stuff like that. So, I learn a lot more about my personality and who I am because I came here. Definitely, when my friends invited me to go twerking I’m like, “Oh okay, I’m good, but thank you.” You know if they invite me for a hike, or hanging out, maybe I can go see sea lions sometimes Lauren? I’m down for that.
LP: I love it. So, a change of scenery, it helps a lot I would say. I love it! Alright, Murilo and Lauren, thank you guys for joining us talking about INTAPP. Murilo congrats on becoming the new president of INTAPP.
MA: Thank you!
LP: Lauren, good luck with graduation! You made it!
LH: Thank you, thanks so much.
LP: This is Liz Pope, you’ve been listening to AppX. BAM!
MA: That should be the name of the podcast!
LP: Twerking and sea lions!
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About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.