It is a typical late afternoon Friday on the MSU campus. Classes are finished, but night life activities are still hours away. Students often choose to stick around their dorms or houses and hang out with their friends and neighbors, often finding themselves engaging in the same dull, depthless discussions with the same people week after week. Instead of falling into this routine, why not shake up the monotonous Friday afternoons by meeting new people and discussing topics of real value such as politics, religion, or culture?
The opportunity to do just that is right here on campus. International Coffee Hour, hosted by the Office for International Students and Scholars, allows students to broaden their views of current events and spend quality time talking to people from all over the world.[convo]
International Coffee Hour was originally started at the University of Oregon in 1983 by Peter Briggs, who is now the MSU Director of the Office for International Students and Scholars. The coffee hour has grown, attracting between 100 and 120 people each week. “It became a core part of people’s lifestyles,” Briggs said.
International Coffee Hour has two goals: “First, to build a community and to create a strong network of student friendships,” Briggs said. “The second part is if MSU is sincere about being an international university, it needs to involve its international students. People connecting with people can transform your life.”
These goals are reflected in the students who attend. For many students, meeting new people, networking, and having meaningful conversation with the international community keeps them coming back. “As a grad student, you meet only certain kinds of people,” Ion Moraru, a physics PhD student from Romania, said. “Here, you meet all kinds of interesting people.”
Dan Hudson, a crop and soil science PhD student from the United States, comes every week with his wife and 13-month-old daughter. “The people here are interesting. You can have good political conversations, not just about football and pop bands,” Hudson said.
But for Hudson and his wife, networking and good conversation is not the only reason why they attend each week. Hudson is interested in working overseas, and International Coffee Hour allows him and his wife to find out which country they connect with best.
While many of the people who attend International Coffee Hour are international graduate students, International Coffee Hour is open to everyone. Whether you are from the United States or Pakistan, a freshman or a PhD student, you are more than welcome to come. American students can learn an incredible amount from speaking with international students. It can be amazing to learn how people from around the world view American culture.
“We would love to attract more Americans that want to integrate with the international community,” Briggs said. “There’s a line in Pocahontas, ‘You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew,’ that describes what American students can get from attending.”
International Coffee Hour meets every Friday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in Spartan rooms B and C of the International Center. For more information about the international community, visit the Office for International Students and Scholars Web site at .

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