The Global Living Community (GLC) at Montclair State University provides an easy way for international students to be able to connect with one another and begin close friendships.
Daniel Lawrence, 21, of Bournemouth University in England, said, “I think [the GLC] helped me because everybody’s in the same boat. It’s quite handy because I don’t have any clue what I’m doing.”
Lawrence, who is studying screenwriting for film and television, had been to America twice before he knew he wanted to come back to study abroad. “It’s near New York City,” he said. “That’s kind of the reason why I picked it.”
In 2003, the Global Living Community grew from just a few apartments and moved into Alice Paul Hall, located in The Village Apartments, where it now occupies the third and fourth floors of the building.
According to Montclair State’s website, “The Global Living Community (GLC) is a residential community of International and American students [at Montclair State].” Its aim is to create a bond not only among the international students living there, but also with the American students with whom they share apartments.
Twenty-year-old television production student, Jessica Browning, who is also from Bournemouth University, had a reasoning similar to Lawrence’s for choosing Montclair State to study abroad. “I wanted to study at Montclair mainly because I heard it had a good reputation for TV, but also because it’s close to New York,” she said.
“It’s a comfort knowing that, even if I don’t meet people in my classes, I still have the international people to fall back on,” continued Browning.
Lawrence and Browning agreed that the GLC has helped them create a bond with the other study abroad students on campus. “The very first week…they put us together and made us do team building activities,” said Browning, “They were a bit cheesy, but really good.”
“I’ve gotten to know everybody pretty quickly,” said Lawrence. “Everybody’s already talking about seeing each other next summer.”
“The concept of having the GLC is that international students and American students hopefully can kind of come together,” said Angela Cant, who is the international student and scholar coordinator at Montclair State. Cant has been working with students who are in America on a J-1 Visa, which means those who are here short term.
Originally from Australia and a lover of travel herself, Cant used to work in sending Montclair State students abroad and took on this new position in last May. “Living on campus is a real American experience,” she said. “Many live at home [and] don’t travel to go to university.”
She continued, “Having the [international] students all in one spot gives them the opportunity to connect with each other, because they’re all away from home [and] experiencing a shared experience.”
Cant noticed that this year’s group of students is social and willing to get together and do activities. “We’re all really up for doing the touristy things like going to New York and going to see a baseball game,” said Browning. “That’s something we’re really into because it’s so alien from back home.”
Every Thursday night in the Alice Paul lounge, there is an event called Cookies and Culture put on by the GLC staff. “I sat down with the RAs and we worked out what they thought would be fun,” said Cant. “We try to fit the event with whatever is going on.”
Some of these events include Halloween and Christmas celebrations, as well as a Thanksgiving dinner and other activities during the semester.
Before the semester started, the students went on a white water rafting trip which was a “fun bonding experience at the beginning,” according to Cant.
“Most internationals find it really hard to get to know the students from the country that they’re traveling to,” said Cant. Having American students in the apartments is helpful because it helps the international students learn the culture and meet new people from the country they came to learn about.
“We try to have at least one [American] in each apartment, but it doesn’t always work,” Can’t said. “We would like to have more American students who are interested in living in the community.”
Cant enjoys working with international students, helping them create memories and “connecting people across cultures,” which is a focus of the GLC. “I think it’s fun to create opportunities for the students to get to know each other,” she said. “I hope that the really good stuff is what happens in people’s apartments and that they develop friendships. The real hope is that, ultimately, the international students go home and keep friendships developed. I think that’s my favorite part.”