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MSU is deeply committed to building international understanding through education and is proud to host a significant enrollment of students from abroad. The presence of international students at Michigan State University provides extraordinary opportunities to learn first hand about people from all parts of the world.

The purpose of this Essay Contest is to build mutual respect through empathy and, using the American idiom, "to walk a mile in another person's shoes" (experiencing something from someone else's point of view). By writing your story, you have an opportunity to help your fellow students and people in the greater Lansing community walk a mile in your shoes so they can better know, feel and appreciate what it is like for you, personally, to be an international student at MSU at this time. We invite you to share some of your experiences, encounters across cultures (good and not-so-good), insights, thoughts and emotions during the period of your stay at MSU.

International Essay Contest



Use any or all of the following points to help shape your essay:

  • Everyone experiences ups and downs and new adventures when living away from the familiarities and comforts of home. Describe your perceptions and experiences of adjusting to the ways of a culture that is different from what you’ve known. Share your personal stories of surprise, confusions or misunderstandings as well as moments of personal growth and how you acquired an understanding of the local ways.

  • Using examples from your personal experiences in Michigan, how are “the rules for the game of life” different in the U.S. than they are in your country? Being specific, how have you experienced different norms and behaviors of Americans and how they have contrasted against what you would commonly expect to find in your home country?

  • Even intelligent people can appear foolish when they are new to a culture and do not know its ways. Confronting even simple tasks like using public transportation or making local phone calls for the first time in a new culture can cause embarrassment when you do not know something that everyone else appears to know. Share a story about how you felt in a situation in which you needed help with something that is ordinarily simple, but it was new to you.

Submit your essay (/app.htm)

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