“What’s up?” with “Stuff”

While driving some of our Rwandan students the other day, I was asked what was the definition of “stuff.” I also had to explain “What’s up?” and start sharing the story of Thanksgiving.

It is important to remember that international students are the same age as the other students at your university – or sometimes older. They just have not experienced the same things.

This might mean you laugh over slang terms such as “stuff” when trying to make sure your explanation correlates with the question. When explaining “stuff,” I pointed to the my purse and said “I have stuff in my purse.” I then elaborated by saying “I have things in my purse. I have a camera, my office keys, and some gum.” This helped the student think of “stuff” as “things” versus as a person object (which also helped him understand the conversation that the word “stuff” occurred within).

The same student from Rwanda then asked me about the phrase “What’s up?” While our students have learned decent amounts of proper English prior to their arrival at our school, they sometimes lack in their knowledge of slang. Alex told me that after a student said to him “What’s up?”, he nodded and responded with “yes.” Needless to say, the other guy gave him a weird look and walked away.

When guiding international students or friends from other regions, keep an open mind. They will learn a lot from you – but you will also learn more about yourself.

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