Valquiria Vita from Brazil studying at Pittsburg State University shares eight things international students have to deal with all the time. We’re sure you can relate, read more!
1. “You have an accent. Where are you from?”
(sometimes I just say one sentence.. one word, and that is enough for me to hear that). So just face it. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, how long you have been living in the U.S., people are always gonna say that to you. And I’ve tried to change to an easier answer, because when I say “Brazil”, that usually means I am gonna have to hear a loooot of other questions after that, and after two years and a half you get kind of tired of that. So lately I’ve been trying to answer “Missouri”, but of course, it’s not working. Because of my accent.
2. “Are you from Brazil? Oooooooh, that is soooo exciting!!”
Actually, it is not, but you just agree, because it is easier that way. But for most international students, what is actually really exciting is the fact that we are living in the U.S. I guess the grass really is always greener on the other side.
3. Your passport and your I-20 are your life.
They are the only things you would think about saving in case of a fire in your apartment, for example. (Or if a tornado was approaching. I’ve been there, because I live in Kansas). If you need to leave the house with your passport, like to go to a bar, for example, you check your purse or pockets hundreds of times to see if it is still there (and you have mini heart attacks if you think you have lost it for a second – especially if your trip back home is close).
4. You need to be prepared to answer everything about your home country, at any time.
There is always that professor who is gonna ask you “and how does that work in Brazil??” and….
#1 You were not paying full attention to the lecture, so you don’t know what he is asking about, or
#2 Sometimes you just don’t know how does that work in your country! I’ve been there in both of the situations.
My advice: 1. always pay attention to class. 2. try to keep up with the news of your home country.
5. Your language becomes a mess.
You mix English words, with words of your own language. Sometimes you create new English words (and you just realize that when some American starts laughing at you), or then you create new words in your own language (and I always realize that when some Brazilian friend starts laughing at me). So in conclusion, you now suck at both languages.
6. The weather.
If you are an international student living in the Midwest, like my case, you have to adapt to Polar temperatures you have never experienced before. And you would be fine with that, if it wasn’t for the fact you see the local people wearing T-shirts and saying things like “yeah, it’s kinda chilly”. And you are freezing, even though you are wearing your biggest coat, plus scarf, hat, gloves, and leg warmers.
Speaking of temperature, being an international living in the U.S. means you need to adapt to Fahrenheit, not Celsius, miles, not kilometers, inches, not centimeters, pounds, not kilos. Thank God for cell phone converters. You also need to adapt to rules and more rules. Do not drink on the street. Do not even carry a drink on the street. Do not download movies from the internet (very, very important).
8. Adapt to the unexpected.
And to conclude, speaking of adapting, being an international students means having to adapt to all kinds of unexpected situations, besides being ready to live well with all kinds of people – even though they are really different from you and how you were raised. But during this process (you don’t even need to wait for the end of it) you will see you have become a much better person, with more friends, experiences, knowledge, and, most importantly, more and more stories to tell =)