Column: How international students handle being in America

Queens Chronicle QC logoFor many of us, it is difficult to suddenly change our environment. Moving to another place or country may be overwhelming. You experience a living situation which you have never experienced before; you must tackle new challenges and you must adapt to a new culture. All these things put together make moving to a different country difficult.

There are many international students at Queens, and they must have faced some kind of adjustment period to where they found it difficult being away from home. I wondered how they dealt with this transition period. Lucy Walliker, a British student on the track and field team here at Queens discussed the transition, from the United Kingdom to the United States.

“Obviously it is difficult being away from home” she said. “The culture is different and people act dissimilar to England, but overall it’s not that hard adjusting to American life.”

I think for internationals like myself and Lucy it is not that difficult compared to internationals coming from countries where the populace speaks a different language. “I think my transition wasn’t that hard because England and America aren’t very far apart in terms of culture, and of course they speak the same language and are both pretty influential countries,” said Walliker. “So it wasn’t a massive change for me.”

I was interested to know what sort of things made it easier for her to settle into living abroad. “I think the people here are very friendly compared to back home, so I don’t feel left out or anything because it’s super easy to make friends and also, I just feel as though because I am part of a sports team here, it’s like one big family, so it helps me stay distracted from thinking about my family back home,” she said. 

Personally, I would agree with what Lucy is saying. I myself have had an easy time adjusting to life here in the United States because my team has welcomed me in and made me feel like part of a family, which in turn doesn’t make me miss home as much. 

However, although students like myself and Lucy did not have a hard time moving to a new country, many students did.  Viktorija Veselinova, a freshman from Macedonia, explained how hard it was for her adapting to the way of life in America.

“Of course, it was and still is difficult for me,” she said. “I have a hard time expressing myself because I don’t have good English. Everything feels a lot slower for me and some people don’t understand me because of my accent.”

For students like Veselinova, life in the States is difficult because, besides the cultural difference, there is also a language barrier. “I mean it has gotten a lot better since I’ve been here because being around American people really improved my language but, I think the main thing which helped me was life here being so relaxed, compared to back home,” she said. “Even things like school. Teachers here are very understanding and work with you to help you get a good grade and stuff.”

Curiously, both students mentioned the American people as one of the main factors that made it easier for international students to settle in. 

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.