Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer


A Weekend with International Students

Contributors: Elena Dimaggio

If you’ve ever been curious about how international students spend their weekends on campus, this story is for you.

While some students have the option to return home on weekends, Carla, Maren, Noah, Mo and I spend our weekends cooking different meals. Carla especially loves to treat us with different sweets like muffins, pancakes and pies. This time, our choice was cooking pizza at home.

Carla, Maren, Noah and Mo are all from Germany while I’m from Italy. Carla and Maren, my roommates and teammates, already knew Noah and Mo from their time studying in New York over the past few years.

Back in Italy, I always dined with my parents, so I’m grateful to have found other international students who share the tradition of having dinner all together in our townhouse.

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Despite our commitment to a healthy meal plan as athletes at UIS, none of us can resist the allure of a well-made homemade pizza.

Since pizza dough requires several hours to rise, we began our cooking adventure on Saturday but saved the feast for Sunday. Everyone pitched in during the process, making it a fun and communal experience that helped us feel more at home than usual. Cooking together provides an opportunity for cultural exchange and learning. Each of us brings our own culinary traditions, ingredients and cooking techniques to the table, enriching the experience with diverse flavors and perspectives. Through sharing and exploring different cuisines, we can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other’s cultures, fostering a sense of openness and mutual respect.

As international students, feelings of loneliness and disorientation can be common. Cooking and eating together serve as a comforting reminder of home. While we eat, we discuss our classes, practices and jobs, sharing our thoughts and feelings, which helps alleviate any sense of isolation. The act of preparing and enjoying food together creates a sense of unity and solidarity, reinforcing the notion that “home” is not just a physical place but also a feeling of connection and community.

Recently, we’ve started planning our meals for the week together. This collaborative approach allows us to grocery shop as a group, share expenses, and coordinate mealtimes more effectively.

Living in the UIS townhouses with spacious, modern kitchens presents us with a wonderful opportunity to explore flavors from around the world. We often prepare dishes from Asian, Indian, German and Italian cuisines. This time, we experimented with various pizza toppings, allowing each person to customize their slices. And, of course, we enjoyed some Coca-Cola for a perfect blend of Italian and American culture.

In addition to our culinary adventures, we also enjoy leisurely walks, particularly to the UIS Field Station, where there is a beautiful lake view. Before retiring for the night, we like to play card games or board games while eating ice cream.

Through simple moments and the company of good friends, we’ve learned to make the most of our time here at UIS. Through these shared experiences, we’ve discovered the true essence of community and friendship. Despite being thousands of miles away from our respective homelands, our weekends at UIS are filled with warmth, laughter and a sense of belonging. So the next time you find yourself in the kitchen, I encourage you to invite others to join you, share stories, swap recipes and savor the flavors of togetherness.

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