In a land, far, far away: the stories of the university’s international students
Although the majority of students attending the university are from America, there is a wide variety of international students who have come from afar to receive their education here. College is difficult enough, even when you are familiar with the culture, language and area. For international students — who do not have the privilege of being accustomed to American culture and language — the difference is much more difficult and nerve-wracking.
Most students traveling from outside of the country come to America, in hopes of a better future and education that may not always be available to them in their home countries. For instance, Lucas Li, an international student from China who is majoring in film, came to America due to the diversity of majors and classes at the university and found that it was the best option for his future.
Similarly, Negin Mohammadmirzaei, an international neuroscience student from the Iran, says that the educational system is much better here than in her home country. Mohammadmirzaei was particularly impressed by how much variety there is at the university, with classes designed for reading Harry Potter and clubs dedicated to chocolate particularly amazing her.
“You have the opportunity to read, write and present,” Mohammadmirzaei says. “These are all important skills, as in my country we only had one or two exams in the whole semester.”
For some international students, the move to America was absolutely necessary due to marriage and family life influencing their choices. For instance, Sowmya Tangirala, a graduate student from India who is majoring in business, came to the U.S. with her husband. However, Tangirala was a dependent, had no working documents and was focused on taking care of a child, which resulted in her spending much of her time at home. The transition was not easy whatsoever but eventually pushed Tangirala to pursue a degree at the university for the betterment of herself and her family.
“I went through a transformation that had a radical effect on me because right after my college, I started to go back to work.” Tangirala says. “I sat at home for a very long time that was a very difficult phase.”
Similarly, Aastha Dahal, a Nursing Science major from Nepal, traveled to this country for her husband. She was reluctant to come to America as she was relatively settled in her country, with a job, family and friends at home. It was nerve-wracking of Dahal to come to America, as everything, from the culture to the people, was very foreign to her.
“It was the first time traveling to an international country, so I was quite nervous,” Dahal says. “I was traveling alone from Nepal.”
One of the primary differences international students must deal with are the vast discrepancies in the language, culture and people. For example, according to Li, the most stressful part about attending school here was learning new material and information in a different language. He struggled with the language, saying that many of the words were difficult to pronounce and learn, requiring much practice and time to master the language.
Learning about the multifarious aspects of our culture proved a shock to international students who have spent their lives completely unaware of such concepts. From tipping in restaurants to grocery shopping, Mohammadmirzaei was unaccustomed to such concepts and forced to adapt to these customs of society that Americans have accepted from an early age.
Despite the numerous challenges that international students must conquer on top of their coursework, they all agree that the university has been welcoming and kind to them, ensuring that the transition is not too rough. After all, having to transform and uproot one’s life is certainly no easy feat, but the university often seeks to assist international students in this daunting and often terrifying process.
“I feel so comfortable,” Dahal says. “It has been very easy with programs like coffee hour to adapt to life here.”
China and the U.S. have been engaged in a trade war as each country places increasing amounts of tariffs on goods traded between them, as of May 5, the trade war re-escalated despite efforts by both nations to resolve their disputes. University President Dennis Assanis issued a statement on Friday to support Chinese students at the university who have been threatened after tensions with their homeland have re-ignited.
“Unfortunately, members of our nation’s international community sometimes may feel vulnerable or unwelcome, caught in the political crossfire among nations,” Assanis stated. “Recently, concerns have been voiced at UD and other institutions regarding rhetoric and actions targeting certain international community members, such as Chinese or Chinese-American scholars. What’s more, faculty and students here and elsewhere have been subject to prejudicial comments, unwarranted scrutiny or professional strictures based on their race, ethnicity or national origin.”