International students don’t get the full college experience – Massachusetts Daily Collegian
International students need to get out of their cultural comfort zones
I think we can all agree that the answer is a definite no. Equally important parts of a college education are the social groups we form and the experiences we have in living on a residential campus. College is supposed to prepare you for the real world, and just preparing for an economics final won’t.
As an international student, I had a very clear vision of what I wanted my time in college to look like. I didn’t want to limit myself to interacting with the kind of people I would have met in my home. While it would have been heartwarming and familiar, my goals were clear: I wanted to interact with people with different upbrings, accents, and cultures.
Before I left home, I had no idea what life was like for international students in America. I had assumed most would be like me, trying to interact and build relationships with new types of people. Despite what I thought, I was very wrong.
During my time here, I saw most of the international community spending their time in separate social groups, barely interacting with someone who doesn’t ring, look, and behave. as they do. Of course, this is not unique to international students. From conversations I have had with other students, these are not only international students, but also many minority communities in the United States.
The reasons for this aren’t exactly a mystery: people feel more comfortable with those who have similar life experiences. Homesickness is also a major factor for international students. I am not trying to say that these arguments are irrelevant. These are perfectly valid emotions, but we have to consider what the real value of a college education is.
Many international students pay the price of the university sticker, which means we pay something above $ 40,000 each year to attend. To give American readers a bar of comparison, let’s take a look at the tuition fees of some of the best colleges in the world: St. Stephens College in India costs $ 250 per semester and Nanjing University in China costs $ 3,000 per year. This means that students coming from these countries to the United States value an American university education 10 to 100 times more than the education they might receive in their home country.
All of this value cannot be reduced to the academic components of the college experience. While many international students would say academics at US universities are better, no one can claim that they can justify paying a hundred times more in tuition and tuition fees. The experience of living on an American campus has to be part of the equation. And if this is true, by isolating themselves in culturally limited social groups, students deprive themselves of the experiences that create the most social value.
Of course, all of this is easier said than done. I’m no stranger to the fears and concerns that come with talking to strangers. Having to explain aspects of your culture, having communication difficulties due to different accents or vocabularies, and then having to face those challenges every time you meet someone is not a pleasant experience.
The alternative, however, is much worse. Continuing to cocoon in our own respective tribes defeats the purpose of having such a diverse class of students. The purpose of diversity is for us to learn from each other and grow together, and realize that we probably have more in common than we realize. The only way to do this is to come out of our bubbles and interact.
The next time you find yourself spending time with students from the same communities, try branching out and talking to someone new. I’ve made some amazing friends so far doing just that, and there’s no reason you can’t too.
Manas Pandit can be reached at [email protected].