a view of the ut campus with the tower

Global LLC Dorm Cultivates Close-knit International Community

  • Jun 19, 2020
  • Suvi Bhalgat

UT’s campus is teeming with opportunities for cross-cultural engagement. One of the most immersive of these is Global LLC, a Living Learning Community on campus open to matriculated undergraduates and J-1 exchange students. Living Learning Communities are residential programs designed to incorporate students fully into UT’s bright culture by offering specialized, holistic opportunities. 

Geared towards students who want to explore other cultures and meet peers from around the world, Global LLC is a dynamic residence hall program for students to enhance their intercultural competency and cross-cultural communication skills while living in on-campus housing with other students from diverse cultural backgrounds. 

Located in the Whitis Court dormitory and neighboring several local businesses and eateries on Guadalupe Street, Global LLC’s prime location makes it especially convenient for students who want to immerse themselves in Austin’s vibrant culture and engage in all it has to offer. 

Because it only houses 30 to 40 students, Global LLC is an incredibly close-knit community. German exchange student Chris Hahn lived there during the 2019-2020 school year and said the small size made his experience feel incredibly welcoming. 

“I feel like I knew everyone living there and could call them my friend,” Hahn said. “This is a stark contrast to what I was used to from home. I was living in a student housing apartment building with hundreds of people, but I did not know a single one of them.” 

chris hahn poses with friends at a football game

Hahn returned to Germany, but he is still in close contact with many of his former dormmates. Because of how warm and welcoming his experience was, Hahn is considering coming to UT back for a second exchange or for graduate school. 

Mathematics senior Hannah Odom stayed in the Global LLC her junior year. Odom is from Texas and she thoroughly enjoyed guiding her fellow residents around Austin. 

“I spontaneously organized many escapades through Austin and campus with exchange students from the Global LLC,” Odom said. “Whether it was Barton, Zilker, Littlefield Fountain, the Drag, or a restaurant, I love showing my city to others and watching them fall in love with Austin as I have. These adventures served as shared experiences which helped us form stronger friendships and learn more about each other’s backgrounds.”

The residence offers several communal amenities, giving students more spaces to interact and engage with each other. Odom recalls how the dorm’s kitchen brought her closer to her fellow residents and gave her more avenues to connect with them. 

“I cooked nightly in the Global LLC last semester and offered leftovers to the residents,” Odom said. “A German student said that he had never had spicy food before. I realized that there are worlds of flavors waiting for me just like spicy foods were waiting for my neighbor.” 

hannah stands with friends in a dorm hallway

Sarah Mercado, a management and information systems senior, served as a resident assistant (RA) for the Global LLC for the 2019-2020 school year. She loved the liveliness and connectivity of her LLC residents even after they move out. 

“The study room was always an active communal space, residents would bake things in the kitchen to share with others, our group chat is still lively and, even after individuals left at the end of their exchange, we celebrate birthdays and are still interacting,” Mercado said. 

One of Mercado’s favorite memories was during Halloween when the dorm residents came together to decorate the whole building with spooky displays followed by a Halloween movie marathon in the living room. The RA also set up a pumpkin carving event and put the resulting creations around the building. 

Such activities embody the purpose of the Global LLC — a space that is meant to facilitate cross-cultural exchange. Living in the Global LLC broadens students’ worldviews and exposes them to different perspectives. 

“I found that no matter the current events, stereotypes, issues and beliefs that are central to someone’s culture, those are all exterior things that don’t alter a person’s character,” Odom said. “People are much more similar than they are different, and I feel so fortunate to have made friendships that will last a lifetime with such a diverse group.”

As an RA, Mercado learned a lot from supporting her residents. By working with the students so closely, she gained greater insight into how diversity, inclusion and intersectionality factor into learning. 

“Every person is made up of their unique experiences and backgrounds,” Mercado said. “I keep all this in mind when helping residents feel welcome into the Global LLC and when I support them as they adjust to life at UT as a domestic, international or exchange student.”

sarah poses in front of the tower

The Living Learning Community program is a University Housing and Dining initiative. International Student and Scholar Services is delighted to collaborate with UHD by selecting residents and organizing supplemental programming each semester. 

The Global LLC is a great option for those who want to live close to both classes and Austin’s spirited offerings, immerse themselves in a diverse mélange of cultural experiences, have a close-knit community and support system and take advantage of exclusive networking opportunities. The comprehensive living experience is unlike any other on campus.