International students find support, comfort at Tulane

Olivia Warren, Contributing Reporter

Tulane University has 1,177 international students, each traveling thousands of miles from 82 countries. International students attend Tulane to seek a competitive degree in a vibrant city, helped by the Office of International Students and Scholars.

The average Tulane student travels 900 miles from countries like China, India, Nicaragua and Panama.

The Global Education Building on Willow. (Rahima Olatinwo)

Every Tuesday international and internationally-minded students gather to share food and experiences at the Global Café. From freshmen to graduate students, the multicultural space allows Tulanians to mingle over shared interests. 

Carlos Salcedo, a senior exchange student from Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, said Tulane’s existing Latin community influenced his decision to participate in the exchange program. 

“I want to live the experience of being an American student and I think [New Orleans] could help me with that,” Salcedo said. 

Hayley Sun, a Chinese graduate student studying accounting, hoped to take advantage of the competitive education Tulane offers. 

Sun said she initially applied to Tulane because of its reputation. But, now as a junior, she credits her stay to the welcoming presence of the Office for International Students and Scholars. 

“The staff was really warm and really concerned about my situation … It makes me feel good,” Sun said.

New Orleans’ diverse cultures are also a big draw for international students. Sun said the warm energy of the city was a culture shock at first but ended up making the city feel more like home.

“People would give me really warm, kind smiles and greetings,” Sun said. “Eventually [I] got used to it and smiled back. [I] really love this greeting culture. Sometimes I think if I go back to China, and I just walked on the street and smiled at a stranger, would they think I’m insane?”

Sofia Jaramillo stands for a photograph.
Sofia Jaramillo stands for a photograph. (Rahima Olatinwo)

Sofia Jaramillo, a freshman from Bogotá, Colombia, said she plans to study environmental economy at Tulane and bring her knowledge back home. Jaramillo said her love for Tulane stems from the existing global citizenship culture on campus. 

“You can’t be at Tulane without noticing its vibrant culture,” Jaramillo said. “I really liked the opportunity to study abroad, having still the connection of my home country … Also I really liked New Orleans and how it was full of culture and full of life, just like Colombia.” 

Alongside New Orleans’ rich culture, Sun and Jaramillo emphasized their appreciation for Tulane’s welcoming environment. 

“Don’t let borders … cut what you’re trying to do, cut the life you’re supposed to have,” Sun said. “Just go and chase it.”