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Wednesday, Dec 6, 2023
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Sweet tea, humidity and culture shock: What it’s like to be an international student at Mercer

I am an exchange student at Mercer University, and my home is approximately 3696 miles across the pond in England.

So why am I here? What is it like being that far from home? Or, as many like to ask: of all places, why are you in Macon?

If I had a dollar for every time I was asked why I was in Macon, I could probably buy shares in Z Beans. Okay, so probably not, but you get the memo.

The first thing I have learned while at Mercer (and for any incoming international students from the UK, this one's for you): be careful how you order tea. Seriously, be careful. Tea, at least here, is served cold and sweet, not warm and milky. If you order just "tea," you will get sweet iced tea. I’m not sure the Queen would appreciate that one very much.

On the subject of food and drink, can we take a moment to drool over the Farmer’s Market cookies? Incoming students who may be reading this while scouring the web in preparation: they are beautiful.

Also, to any incoming students: do not be disheartened if you cannot find the Einstein Bros Bagels that is here on campus. For reference, it took me about three weeks to find it. I was starting to lose hope that it even existed. However, lo and behold, my friend and I successfully located it in the depths of the Tarver Library. I learned two things that day: where the mysterious bagel cafe was, and what ‘shmear’ means. I am still baffled by the latter.

On another, more sunny note, I wish I could warn naive me prepping to make this move about the intensity of Georgia heat. It’s a scorcher. To those who have to endure this year-round, congratulations for surviving; to those still acclimating to it, keep up the good work; and to those moving to Georgia, be it internationally or not, good luck. I still do not understand how Mercer athletes cope. It is so hot, even the concrete gets constantly watered here to keep it cool. That was sarcasm. Please don’t get me started on those sprinklers…

However, one month at Mercer University has not just taught me what sweet tea is, how unbelievably hot this place is and that Einstein Bro. Bagels does definitely exist, but also how welcoming Mercerians can be. Public transport doesn’t really exist here, but people offering you rides to Walmart do. Perhaps eight months here will teach me how to enjoy a cup of sweet iced tea, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one if I were you.


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