Dr. Bozenna Pasik-Duncan, professor of mathematics, came to Lawrence 25 years ago from Warsaw, Poland. After she fell in love with her husband, Tyrone Duncan, a mathematics professor, she became a professor at KU to be with him. It was difficult at first to leave her Polish friends and students, but now she enjoys her American students and feels at home.
She has grown to love many places around town, including The Community Mercantile, Liberty Hall, South Park and the Lied Center.
“When I was in Poland, I spent every Friday evening in Warsaw Philharmonic Hall,” Pasik-Duncan said. “I love music and art. The Lied Center is close to my heart. I like to go to the Lawrence Arts Center, too. I am passionate about the art. I have collected the art by Polish artists and met many of them. I treasure that friendship.”
There are many ways to get involved in the community, and she chose teaching at Sunset Hill School when her daughter attended.
The best place to find Pasik-Duncan is La Prima Tazza, 638 Mass., where she spends mornings when she is in Lawrence. La Prima Tazza offers an assortment of international coffees and drinks, from French press to Italian spritzers. For Polish pastries, she goes to European market Au Marché, 931 Mass.
Lawrence, home to college students, professors, families, native Kansans, Native Americans and a large international population, is a diverse community. There are 1,926 international students at Kansas University this fall from 106 countries, up from 1,624 in fall 2007, according to KU.
Lawrence matches the diversity of its population with a variety of restaurants and specialty stores to suit every taste. Combine these with the features that give Lawrence its unique allure, from the local art to KU itself, and the city is inviting to people from all over the world.
Another familiar face at La Prima Tazza is Aslihan Demirkaya, instructor in mathematics, who enjoys studying there because people from the department of math frequent the café. Demirkaya is from Istanbul, Turkey, and this is her fifth year in the doctorate program at KU.
Demirkaya likes living in Lawrence because it has a large student population and is quieter, safer and more affordable than other American cities she has visited, such as Miami and New York.
“In New York it is much noisier; in New York I cannot afford an apartment by myself with this salary,” she said.
Demirkaya’s involvement on campus helped her meet people in Lawrence. She has been a leader in many campus organizations, including president of Turkish Club, and is the president of the Association for Women in Mathematics at KU.
Ece Gurler, a graduate student from Ankara, Turkey, contacted Demirkaya before she came to KU when Demirkaya was the president of Turkish club, and they became friends.
“What I like about Lawrence is there are lots of international students here, so I don’t feel weird or alone,” Gurler said. “I am also glad that I can find some Turkish food here.”
Buying food from Mediterranean Market & Café, 3300 W. 15th St., makes her feel at home.
Gurler, who works at the International Student & Scholar Services office, recommends taking every opportunity to socialize with other students, like attending sporting events and joining campus organizations.
“If their nationality has an organization at KU, they should definitely get in contact with them,” Gurler said. “This will provide them with an environment in which they will feel more comfortable.”
Fengjun Dong, a freshman from Hupei, China, joined International Friends at KU to meet new people and improve her English.
International Friends groups international students and native English-speaking students by gender to study English on a weekly basis.
Dong is also a member of the Chinese Students and Scholars Friendship Association, and she met other international students at ISSS Orientation.
“I think the school prepares very well for international students,” Dong said.
One problem she faces at KU as a resident in McCollum is the lack of a kitchen. For good Chinese food, she goes to Panda & Plum Garden, 1500 W. Sixth St.
“They have good, spicy Chinese food,” Dong said. “I think it is too spicy for Americans.”