Haokun from China shares his struggles as an international student, but all the hard work does pay off!
Being an international student is a long journey, but for me, just getting here was a big challenge. I am from China, where school, studying, and grades are the only parts of a kid’s life. I was one of few kids who got all “F”s in school. I could not memorize anything, and studying was too boring for me. My parents were very stressed every day especially because in China, I was considered such a bad and shameful son. Even though my classmates studied English since they were young, of course, I failed at that too. Being lazy and hating school became who I was. I told my parents I didn’t want to go to college, and I wanted to get a job that didn’t require a college diploma. However, that plan failed. All the companies asked for diploma and English skills. As a result, I sat around my house for three years after high school, and did nothing.
Eventually, I decided to study in America. But it wasn’t so easy. I went to an agency to help me study in America, but there were too many things I had to complete. My English level was very low, so I had to study in a language school. After I finish that, I could have qualification to study at Santa Monica College for two years. They also told me that I had to get very good grades because if I don’t I may not be accepted to a university for transfer. I was so shocked. Even after I study for years at SMC, I may not get accepted to a university. It was too hard. My goal was too far away. I kept asking myself what I should do. I felt like I have lost my way.
After a lot of thinking, I came to the U.S. and started my brand new life in a foreign country and different culture. I was so excited in the first few weeks, but things changed very quickly. As I tried to live my life here, I realized how empty my English skill was. My world was broken. I couldn’t understand anything. I felt blind, deaf, and mute. I couldn’t order coffee from Starbucks, and waiters at restaurants couldn’t understand me. I even ordered coffee that I didn’t like because I couldn’t order my favorite drink. I couldn’t ask for directions when I was lost, and I felt hopeless, stressed, and nervous all the time. Then, I began to see the difference between my dream and fact. I cried a lot.
Fortunately, I met my roommate who is a good English speaker from China. I told him about my situation and asked for help. I was surprised when he told me he used to have the same problems that I had when he first came to the United States. He also told me that he could help me get through it. I was so thankful. I spent a lot of time with him, and he took me everywhere. He took me to shopping malls, and taught me a lot of new vocabulary. He taught me what signs meant, and asked me to talk to people whenever possible. He helped me to grow.
After half a year, I finally can talk to my classmates, and I can go shopping on my own. I finally graduated from my language school and got my offer letter from Santa Monica College. One day, I was sitting under the sun and was thinking about everything. I felt I have become a real student of this country. I have changed, grown up, and become progressive. I changed myself from a spoiled child to a normal student. I keep falling down and hitting the ground over and over, but I will not give up and yield. I always get up when I fall down, and I always encourage myself because I am not the guy who was sitting on the couch for three years. I am proud that I have become an official international student, and I will keep learning as much as I can.
Home Country: China
Santa Monica College