International students increase business in East Lansing

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By Ipshita Moitra
Entirely East Lansing Staff writer

The number of international students at Michigan State University has boomed in the past 10 years and so have options for shoppers and diners.

In 2004, MSU had 3,315 international students. That number has grown by 116 percent to 7,161 students this year.

They come from Saudi Arabia, India and Europe. Most are from China, reflecting a change in the makeup of the international student body, as well as a change in its size.

“The revenue has been good due to the swell of international students,’ said Ruini Ma, cashier at Everyday, a Chinese restaurant on Grand River Avenue. “Once students graduate, we have more students.”

“Our business has been different, we see a lot of American students at our restaurants.” said Vivek Bhandari, a part-time worker at Sindhu’s restaurant. “A major reason for this could be how different international students bring them to try new (cuisines).”

The Office for International Students and Scholars helps international students at MSU with paper work, visas and transitions. According to the office’s data, out of the 7,161 international students at MSU, 5,820 are from Asia. Of the 5,820 Asian students, 3,975 are from China, 515 are from South Korea and 255 are from India.graph.jpg

With a large Chinese population at East Lansing, stores have begun to make accommodations for new cultural products. In the past couple years Oriental Mart, a Chinese store on Grand River Avenue, has catered to the needs of Chinese citizens in East Lansing. The shop has seen an increase in sales, and has diversified its inventory. With so many students who request brands and materials from their home towns, Oriental Mart goes out of its way to stock authentic materials.

“It has had a positive effect on our sales,” said Rachel Ball, manager of Oriental Mart. “We try to have more variety in our selections, some request food from homes they can’t carry so we try to find the company and order for them.”

Students coming from China, Hong Kong and Korea often visit stores to buy groceries to cook at home. Many students are happy with the availability in East Lansing, and adapt to make the products work for them.graphchart.png

>“Often times students go to stores so we can cook and eat food which is similar to the food back at home,” said Jackie Tong, a student from Hong Kong.

Due to the diversity in the student body, different stores adjust to the needs of kids who come from all around the world. Goodrich’s, a grocery store off Trowbridge Road, sees a variety of Indian and Chinese students. John McCule, an employee at Goodrich’s, says the international population adds to the store’s business.

“With a huge number of people from different places, we try to cater to their needs,” McCule said. “There has been a profit in the past years because of this.”

Indian restaurant Swagath, which has been in East Lansing since 2012, is mostly popular among people from outside Michigan and Indian families. According to owner Sid Reddy, they see customers from Lansing, Grand Rapids, etc., so isn’t every dependent on the crowd of people in the city.

According to student Freya Xu, most of the processed food in East Lansing is high in calorie content, which is different from her hometown in China. As a resident of East Lansing, she wishes to see products that are healthier, and also easily accessible.

“The calories in American food is a lot,” said Xu. “I would like to see general stores have more things from China which are also healthier.”

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