Opinion: The international student experience

Clarion social media manager Rosi Di Stefano poses with other international students and staff on March 16 at the international student office inside the SS building. Photo by Kevin Alvarez / Clarion

A few decades ago, the only students to come to the United States to study abroad were students that came from money. However, that has changed.

Nowadays, students from various countries and economic backgrounds are able to come. There are rules international students must follow in order to study in America.

Many of the rules are a little outdated, given that the times have changed along with the circumstances surrounding other countries.

Young adults come here seeking opportunities that are not available to them in their own countries, such as the quality of their education, a better lifestyle, opportunities to grow or unfortunately to escape circumstances, such as wars and other severe problems in their country.

Unfortunately, someone trying to escape a war or a bad situation most of the times is not in the best economic position when all they are trying to achieve is a better lifestyle somewhere else.

Nevertheless, rules and high tuition make it really difficult for people to come here and fulfill their dreams. America, the land of endless opportunities. Why not make education the first step to a better future?

In comparison to American students, international students pay around six times more for their tuition. Speaking from experience, being an international student myself, this may seem like a downfall to some, but it actually comes with some benefits.

PROS:

Citrus College has their own center for international students. The friendly staff in the International Student Center (ISC) is always willing to help students diligently with a smile on their face. Some of the many things they assist students with are answering questions about the international student application to attend Citrus College, choosing classes, writing official letters, providing information about the health insurance and many more.

“At the ISC, I enjoy being able to welcome students to the United States and introduce them to Citrus College,” Coe Lamoureux, international student supervisor, said. “As a father of three, I try to approach international students the same way I would want someone to treat my children if they were traveling into a new country.”

At the ISC, international students have their own counselors, so they do not have to go through the sometimes busy schedule at the general counseling department. International students have specific paperwork to fill out and rules to follow from both the American government and their home country’s government. The counselors and the staff in the office have the extra knowledge to help students with the paperwork. The staff assists students with their academic questions and personal needs, either by drop in or by appointment.

“This experience has been eye opening so far,” Beatriz Santos, biology major from Brazil, said. “It takes a lot of nerve to leave the comfort of everything you know and enter a completely new environment by yourself. My experience here has been filled with learning experiences that helped me grow not only professionally but also in a personal level.”

Next to the office, a lounge for students provides access to computers, tables to do homework and eat, wait for the next class and meet with friends. Hot tea, coffee and hot chocolate are provided for students.

Students participate in off-campus and on-campus events, such as potlucks, protocol events, study nights and a Halloween party. Off-campus events include trips to museums, hikes, amusement parks, beaches and shopping outlets. The majority of the events are free or have a small fee and all include snacks or meals and transportation. The events constantly change to expose international students to American culture while promoting friendship among students.

“Since modern 21st century is considered as global era, I think interacting with different cultures and learning English, which is almost universal language, is extremely important in this global era,” Heesung Park, economics major from South Korea, said. “So being an international student [in the US] will benefit me in the future for sure.”

CONS:

Currently, international students have to pay $287 per credit, which is as mentioned above about six times more than a U.S. student. Starting this summer, tuition will increase to $291 per credit. Citrus College’s tuition will still be lower than many other community colleges nearby.

International students have to maintain a full-time status of at least 12 units each Spring and Fall semester. This not only causes a financial burden but also an academic stress. International students do not have the luxury to drop classes on their own and need to follow a certain procedure to do so.

Antoine Renaut, theatre major from France, said it is hard for international students to pay for semesters, having to come up with the full amount of tuition, about $4,100, within the first week of registration to avoid being dropped from classes.

The majority of the students’ first language is not English, so there is a language barrier. Until students’ English is improved or is at par with academic requirements, there are difficulties understanding and communicating not only with staff and students on campus, but their surroundings.

International students are not eligible for financial aid and most of the scholarships offered to students. Similarly, international students are not allowed to work off campus. The only jobs they can apply for are on campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week.

“German college education provides education on extremely lower price compared to United States, not only for their students with citizenship but also provides same priced education opportunity for international students,” Park said. “As a result, people migrate and find jobs in Germany and, of course, educated people migrate into the country benefits the economy. In my opinion, United States must do the same thing. Let’s be honest, 60K for a year of education is ridiculous amount.”

FACT:

Citrus College currently has over 500 international students enrolled for spring semester from over 40 different countries, including: China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, Nepal, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Peru, the Philippines and Russia, international student technician Mary Mincer said.

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About

Born and raised in Venezuela. Communication major. Social Media Manager of the Citrus College Clarion.


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