Being Away From Home: The Perspective of an International Student

CAMILA DONOSO | FEATURES COLUMNIST

New friends, new city, new country, new culture, new language. The first two might sound familiar to a typical St. Norbert College student when thinking about starting college. However, the last ones are probably unfathomable for most of people. Making the decision of studying in another country is probably one of the most difficult and important decisions that young adults have to make in their entire life. This will probably assure you a better professional future, but in expense of giving up your entire life in your home country.

Jennifer Han ´18 came from Taiwan over a year ago. She first started as an ESL student to improve her English and now she is an Art Major. She has learned to love Wisconsin and now SNC is her home away from home. In this interview she tells us her experience; and what some of the advantages and disadvantages of being an international student are.

Why did you decide to study away from Taiwan and why did you choose the United States?

I think because I want a better future, and here in the US there is a good education system so I can find great a job after school and have a successful life. I considered some countries such as, Australia and Canada. but I wanted to go to a place with not too many people from Asia because my goal was to improve my English and to completely immerse myself in the culture. I chose SNC because it offered me the opportunities that I was looking for.

What were the most difficult things that you went through when you first came to America?

A lot of things were difficult, because I came here alone. I had to do things that I´ve never done before, like opening a bank account, all the paperwork for the college and getting health insurance. Many new things and everything was in English. It was very hard.

What are some of the biggest differences between the US and Taiwan? 

A lot! Simple things such as food are different, not just the type of food and recipes. But also, we don’t use knives and forks, we use chopsticks, and so at the beginning I really didn’t know how to use silverware. Another thing is the parties, we don’t party like here in my country; over there the culture is much more tranquil and calm. There isn´t much freedom for young adults like me. Something that really shocked me at the beginning was that here people like to hug; in my culture we don’t hug or shake hands, when we say hi we just wave our hand. It was super weird to me at the beginning but now I´m used to it and I actually like it.

What do you like the most from here? 

I really like the campus; it´s beautiful and the fact that it is a student town is very safe. It´s a small college so is really easy to go to one place to another and to really know the people. Also, the air is really clean and all the people from De Pere are really friendly and nice; they always help me when I need it.

It´s hard to be an international student, sometimes you are homesick, you miss your family, friends and food. It is a struggle with the language and sometimes it is easy to feel completely alone. But Jennifer says that she wouldn’t change her decision. She feels proud of being from Taiwan and being an international student. She is proud of herself because she is making a lot of sacrifices for being here in order to pursue her dreams.

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