Considering the uncertain and divisive political state of the United States, the pursuit of international travel can be difficult. Still, the unstable times have not stopped to flow of international students into the country, looking to meet new people and learn new things. Ryan Brown, a Missouri Southern international student from Northern Ireland, has these same goals.
The 21-year-old Belfast native is a history major at Ulster University in Ireland, but came to Southern before the Fall 2016 semester. Though Brown has traveled internationally in the past on holiday, living in the United States has been an entirely different experience for him.
“This is the longest period of time I’ve lived abroad and the first time I’ve traveled internationally alone,” Brown said. “It was all very nerve wracking.”
Though none of his Southern credit hours will transfer back to his hometown university, studying in the U.S. has given him the opportunity to study things that he would not otherwise be able to study.
“This was an opportunity for me to just kind of come here and study stuff I would never get the chance to study at university level back home,” Brown said. “Because when you do history major, you only study history, whereas here I had the opportunity to do sociology classes and politics classes and just other classes that I just sort of find really interesting. It’s great to broaden horizons.”
In his free time, Brown is highly involved in campus life. He is part of the Model European Union and Model Arab League, which will take him to Texas and Indiana for conferences later in the semester. He’s also an avid ping-pong played in the student life center, and has had a positive experience with Southern students and Midwest citizens in general.
“I find that people in the Midwest [would] give you their left arm if you asked. I’ve never had more offers for rides from people,” said Brown. “I just sort of look at that—originally I looked at that with suspicion just because of where I was from, but the more I look at it, ‘oh, they’re just really nice.’”
Brown will receive a diploma at the end of the semester and return to Ireland, where he will then begin his final year of college. Unsure of what he wants to do with his history degree, Brown does know for sure that he will pursue a Master’s.
“I’ve often joked about running for office back home, but there’s going to have to be a point where [I ask myself] do I put my money where my mouth is?”
In tune with the American political situation, and armed with knowledge about previous violence in his own country stemming from political strife, Brown had some solemn words for the citizens of America.
“I don’t like Trump’s policies, [and] I don’t agree with his politics. I just don’t think people should stop being so…people won’t respect the democratic vote. People won’t even consider negotiating with him,” Brown explained. “I’ve noticed that American politics [have] become so divided in that one side won’t even talk to the other side, and if you don’t talk to the other side…it leads to more violence.”
Brown will miss the people of the United States when he returns to Ireland this summer, he’s looking forward to eating food without so much “butter, grease, and cheese.” He is looking forward to the remaining time he has with the great friends he’s made at Southern.
Brown said, “If you see us internationals, come say hi, because you’ll never find a group of more friendly people.”