On being an International Student

Hey guys,


Being an international student is not always the easiest. Okay fine, it is not easy. Navigating your way through in a country where you are considered as a foreigner can make you feel like a tourist. Unfortunately you are not here to visit the Statue of Liberty or marvel at a painting in MOMA.

I feel like it is my very responsibility to warn all the other international student fellows out there who are planning on studying in the US. Here are the few things that will happen to you, especially at Hope College.

  • Your math skills will improve. Your brain will be on fire because you are trying to convert everything; Fahrenheit to Celsius, Mile to Kilometer, Pound to Kilogram, Gallon to Liter… And the list goes on.
  • You will be asked to say something in your language and be expected not to laugh when they try to imitate you.
  • You will be asked to join your friend and their family for Thanksgiving or any other holiday and you will feel awkward saying yes because you know you will be the only one at the table that is not family.
  • When you kindly say: “thank you but I can’t”, you will find yourself on campus, all by yourself, which kind of looks like a set for an apocalypse movie. You will also regret saying no as you are scrolling through your News Feed and getting a little homesick as you see all these happy family portraits while you are thousands of miles away from your own family.
  • You will get complimented on your accent; as much as you hate your accent everyone will tell you it makes you sound more exotic. Then you’ll give them weird looks and say, “I’m not a bird. I’m a human. I can’t be exotic.”
  • You will gain weight.
  • People back home who’ve never been to the US will advise you to not have a lot of McDonalds, even though you’ll be grossed out by the thought anyway.
  • You’ll miss the fast food chains back home; even McDonalds.
  • First semester ordering Papa John’s at midnight will be your greatest pleasure in life.
  • While you are out shopping, you’ll realize you are a size Small in the US while you’d be a solid Medium in anywhere else.
  • You will try to be a part of a pop- culture conversation, but when it comes to things like 70’s Show, you will feel a little sad and left out because you have no idea what people are talking about.
  • Whatsapp, Skype and Viber becomes the first thing you check in the morning along with your emails.
  • You’ll confuse languages. Saying “feminine” with a French accent with a small Turkish twist because pronunciations are too close to each other.
  • Constant Jetlag.
  • Google map and bookmark the places where you can find your native cuisine.
  • Getting really good at convincing people and talking to officials because at customs, you need to explain why you desperately need that bulk of feta cheese and how much American feta cheese tastes like clay.
  • Weekly mini heart attacks when you can’t remember where you put your visa documentation.
  • People who studied abroad or left their homes for a summer camp in another state will tell you that they know how you feel and you will try your very best not to have a melt down.
  • Going days without talking to anyone back home because of the time difference.
  • Being questioned whether you are going to stay or going to go back home after you graduate.
  • Waking up to 81 messages because of this group-messaging thing you are on with your friends back home and they do all the talking while you are sleeping.
  • Destroying stereotypes will be your life goal.
  • Trying to convince people that just because you are Turkish does not mean “it would be really cute if you dated the other only Turkish person on campus”.
  • Will have a crush on someone and won’t know how to approach to person because you have no clue how things work in the US.
  • Practically will date someone and realize apparently you are not their girlfriend or boyfriend.
  • You’ll realize you are someone’s Token Foreign Friend… And it kills you inside.
  • Living out of a suitcase will make you fashion efficient.
  • Talking about fashion, you’ll feel comfortable going to class in sweatpants and pjs.
  • You’ll run into people who know people in your home country and get manically excited.
  • You’ll realize, afterall, it is a small world.

Published by Idil Ozer

Senior at Hope. International Studies major, Political Science minor. The Anchor, World News Co-editor. Blogger for the Odyssey and Thought Catalog. Feeds on news, politics and donuts.

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