Martha Perez-Mendez/Assistant Entertainment Director
Florida International University touches each part of the world as students from countless countries walk the halls in pursuit of a higher education. From Africa to Spain to the Caribbean islands and beyond, you can never walk too far without running into someone who identifies with another culture. For Meaghan Rivera, senior marketing and international business major, one culture just doesn’t cut it.
At the age of six months old, Meaghan was moved away from her birthplace of New York to join her parents on their next assignment in the American Embassy. What started off as a move to one new place, grew to nine countries that she has called home: Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Spain and Bangladesh.
“My favorite country would be Bangladesh just because it was something completely different from me. I learned a new religion, a new language and dealt with different people from a different part of the world,” said Meaghan.
In Bangladesh, fashion and the dress code is very different from what we see in the United States. The culture has incorporated strict religious values and impressed that upon fashion, the popular trends of Miami wouldn’t work there.
“I was very intrigued by the fashion in Bangladesh, because as a woman I couldn’t wear tank tops or shorts like how we are used to in Miami. It was very different for me to dress up. They use vibrant colors as well; the scarf that they wear has to match the leggings or the shirt they were wearing. Everything had to match accordingly,” said Meaghan.
Part of living in all these new places was adjusting to even more than just your daily wardrobe. It can mean having to learn a new language, adapt to different educational systems and learning how you fit in. With experience in so many countries, Meaghan seems to have gotten the hang of easily adapting to other cultures and customs. Now, she has made it her mission to help foreign students at FIU assimilate to living in the United States.
“I got involved as an international student ambassador at the Global Initiatives office. I help students who are coming either to study abroad at FIU or who are doing a dual degree program at FIU. I am their mentor throughout the semester and I help them out with anything they need,” Rivera said.
Meaghan is just one example of students you find at FIU whose lives have changed heavily in a short amount of time. Making that big move to another country, whether it is for school or a new home, comes with adjustments that take time, however, there are students like Meaghan who use their own experiences to make that transition easier.