Multicultural Nightlife

Carly Reiser

Campustown is flooded with ISU students on a typical Saturday night for a variety of reason, whether it be because they want to grab a quick bite to eat, mingle with the raucous crowds or head to a bar.

However, Central Iowa Saturday night festivities may be an unfamiliar experience for many of our international or multicultural students.

The atmosphere

For a a foreign exchange student from the United Kingdom, bar flies and clogged sidewalks are an unusual concept. 

“There are so many people outside the bars, but you wouldn’t see that in England,” said Haoruo Cheng, student in liberal arts. “Just seeing so many people, it almost seemed like a street carnival.”

Night life at Iowa State is similar to other universities around the United States, but it differs from cities across the globe, Cheng said. 

In England, the legal drinking age is 18, so going to a pub or club is what a typical night out consists of. Cheng said the major difference between Iowa State and England is that students don’t go out clubbing on the weekend. Instead, they go Monday through Friday. 

“Saturday night is when the locals go out, so students avoid them like the plague,” Cheng said.

For someone like Henry Chen, who is originally from Taiwan, a Saturday night in his hometown consisted of studying from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in study groups full of strangers.

At Iowa State, Chen goes to the bars about twice a month, but in Taiwan, bars are known for a place where people do business or a place where not so savory people congregate, he said.

Instead of going to a bar, Taiwanese students go to tea shops to socialize and study.

It was hard to adjust to not being able to meet people for a drink like he would in his hometown, since he is not of legal drinking age in the United States, Cheng said. 

The transportation

Night time traffic in the United States also differs from that in other countries.

Edward Herrera’s parents are from Guatemala, and he said when he visits, they walk almost everywhere or ride horses.

“(Cars) are mainly for the richer people, and there aren’t many roads that cars can go on and stuff, so that’s why they have horses,” Herrera said.

Nights in Guatemala are similar to nights at Iowa State when it comes to going out and drinking, but when it comes to safety it’s a different story, he said.

“There’s more risk of danger over there because there’s more forest all over the place,” Herrera said. “It’s more modernized here and a lot more people.”

Late night food

After a night of drinking, ISU students will wait in long lines to get food at vendors that line Welch Avenue. In England students do the same, except they go to takeaways to grab fish and chips, Cheng said.

“After a night out, you’re quite hungry at this point and you don’t really care about nutritional value or health or anything because you’ve probably consumed a thousand calories in drinks,” Cheng said.