washingtonpost.com  > Print Edition > The Extras > Southern Md.

Foreign Students Offer Views on U.S.

Sunday, March 6, 2005; Page SM10

International students attending St. Mary's College of Maryland talked Wednesday with American students who have studied abroad about how people in other countries perceive the United States.

The roundtable discussion involved four foreign students: two from Thailand and one each from Brazil and Senegal who are at St. Mary's during the spring semester on a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The discussion involved their impressions of the United States and how their views have changed since they left their home countries, said Zach Messitte, director of the college's Center for the Study of Democracy.

Anta Niang of Senegal talks about life at St. Mary's College of Maryland as classmate Katherine Spears listens. At right is Nubia Pinto of Brazil. Some foreign students said the United States is not as violent as they imagined. (Photos Mark Gail -- The Washington Post)

"They tended to associate the United States with violence, largely through news and television and movies and things like that," Messitte said. "Then they've had this nice experience in this bucolic college setting that has nothing to do with violence, which was a change."

They also expressed homesickness, loneliness and a desire for their favorite foods, something the American students who studied in Italy, Costa Rica and Nicaragua also mentioned, Messitte said.

"Some couldn't wait to come home and have fried chicken," he said.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company