What Does It Truly Mean to Be an International Student?
Being able to travel across the world or study in another country is always seen as a privilege. Some people treat it as an opportunity to chase their dreams, while others view it as an escape. Whatever the reason is, being an international student does not just mean that the student is simply a person who comes from a foreign country.
Personally, I cherish my identity as an international student. I am not reluctant in telling others that I am not a local student in my University. However, sometimes, I do understand why most of my friends do not wish to reveal this, unless they are asked. As an international student, most of us hope to be accepted and included in the new community.
What are the major challenges as an international student?
First, the most challenging task is to learn to live with homesickness. I suffered from serious homesickness when I first came to Australia. I had to settle into everything on my own, and I felt very lonely and upset, since I did not have my family here to seek help from. I still remember seeing cockroaches everyday in my room and having to find ways to kill them on my own, just because we had neighbours that were dirty. Fortunately, the people I have met here are very nice and I have made many friends of different nationalities, whom I can rely on and talk to. It gets extremely hard when it comes to traditional festivals, especially those that are only celebrated in our own countries. My friends also send me pictures of food that they eat while they celebrate, which makes me miss the food. But since Australia is a multicultural country, I am still able to find most of the food here.
Language barriers can be another challenge. I was fortunate enough to learn my mother tongue, Cantonese, and English at around the same time, therefore, I have not been facing a lot of difficulties in communication. However, I do have friends who are second language learners of English. They always find it difficult to express themselves fully sometimes because it is almost impossible to translate every single word from our own languages to English accurately.
What are the things that I struggled with as an International student?
I used to get discouraged when people discriminated against me because I am Asian or simply because I speak other languages. But after speaking with a couple of friends who also had similar encounters before, we realized that being upset would not change anything. We concluded that this happens everywhere around the world. If we did not do anything wrong or did anything that offend them, then instead of being upset, we should actually be proud of who we are and what languages we can speak.
What are the best parts of my experience in being an international student?
Similar to most international students, I am pleased to be able to learn more about myself. I managed to learn more about my own strengths and weaknesses, especially when I had to handle different things on my own. I used to be very timid and did not dare to approach people. But since I have to settle almost everything myself, now, I try to be more courageous, whenever I can. And despite that everyone is different and we all have different cultures, we learn to accept one another more and embrace the differences. It is also exciting to see how I changed over the past years.
What is the best advice for those who want to study abroad?
Do not do it for or because of anyone. If you ever considered studying abroad simply because someone asked you to, or because your best friend is going to do so, you probably should reconsider. This experience can definitely help you to grow and broaden your horizons, but if it is not on your priority list, you will most likely regret it and get upset every single day;you may keep comparing the life of a student in your hometown and the life of a student in the country that you chose to study abroad in. But no matter what you choose, just remember to love yourself and learn from others and the things around you, while you live your life to the fullest as a student.