Because of its international feel, working at INTO Café is an experience that is far different than that of other coffee shops on campus.
INTO Café may be a name that many students do not recognize. Just past the Oval, over the train tracks and across Mason Street, the café sits in Alder Hall. Alder Hall is host to new international students from around the world and helps them with English and integrating themselves into the culture of the United States.
Lauren Howie, a freshman psychology major, said she enjoys working in the environment that the INTO Café offers.
“It is more relaxing because you can kind of escape from everything since it is away from the main campus,” she said. “It’s quiet and people can just kind of sit and enjoy a coffee while doing homework.”
As far as the student demographic that is catered to at INTO, the language barrier between employees and students provides a challenging but fulfilling experience.
Erin Ciacio, manager of INTO Café and a senior zoology major, said that one of her favorite things about working at INTO is watching the international students progress.
“It’s really cool to watch them learn English,” she said. “At the beginning of the semester, they will start out not knowing much English and really scared to use what they do know, and it’s cool by the end of the semester to see them more confident.”
Seniors Lex Lubinski and Ian Moran both are grateful for their experience working at INTO Café.
“I think it’s definitely a good experience. It’s fun to see everyone progress in their ability to speak English and teach them about American culture as well,” said Moran, a health and exercise science major.
Lubinski, an economics major, said what he enjoys is seeing the international students he has gotten to know around campus while he walks to class.
“I run into international students all around campus now,” he said. “It’s nice to have an American friend around campus for them that they can talk to.”
Talal Alajmi, an international student from Kuwait, still visits INTO Café even though he is now an official student at CSU.
“It was my first love in America. My favorite drink is the hot chocolate. I learned English at INTO Café,” he said.
Alajmi said he is now much better at his English and goes to classes on the main campus, but still likes to come back to the café to visit and order his favorite drink.
International students are not the only ones learning at INTO Café, though. Ciacio said she learns something new all the time through conversations with customers.
“I’ve learned a lot about different cultures, like how tipping isn’t the same and other different customs such as how it is rude in Middle Eastern culture to use your left hand to give someone their card back,” she said.
INTO Café is certainly an experience, one that according to employees and students alike, includes more than just its coffee.
Collegian Reporter Katy Mueller can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @katymueller13.