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The plight of an overseas flight

A university education can often be more trifling in a foreign country.

Mengfei Song, Contributing Writer

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Cal State Long Beach has an international student body nearly a thousand strong, giving the campus a breadth of diversity, but studying abroad puts international students under pressure. Some of the strains they endure include changes in their usual social life, academic work and language barriers.

It is difficult for international students, like myself, to do things like rent an apartment or get a valid driver’s license.. These burdens can often lead to feelings of being homesick, lonely and frustrated.

“I feel very isolated,” said Julie He, an international student from China who majors in fashion design. “After class I opt to go back to my apartment because I don’t know how to communicate with my classmates. I plan to drop out of school this coming semester and go back to China because I am fed up with being all by myself all the time.”

In such situations, it is common to find international students having their own small social circles. It gets hard to release pent-up emotions without a social life. The only sense of security we rely on in these foreign countries is making friends with people who are from our home countries; getting out of the comfort zones requires a lot of courage.

Having a limited or unstable social circle will easily influence our life in ways that aren’t always expected. Getting sick can be absurdly difficult for international students. We have to go to hospital alone, make our own food and generally nurse ourselves back to health when we are sick. When I was sick, it made the feeling of missing home even stronger.

For some international students, their governments might offer scholarships for their tuition fees. But students from other countries, such as myself and other international students from China, are mostly supported by our families. For one semester, the average tuition fee for an international student is around $8,000, and now they have to including their cost of living. In one year, an international student will spend $30,000 after all the costs are summed up.

“I feel a lot of economic pressure at the beginning,” Abdulrahman Aldamer said,  a 22-year-old international student from Saudi Arabia majoring in civil engineering. “International students’ tuition is higher than that of American students, and at the beginning I didn’t have scholarship from my government. So at that time I have got a lot of stress for my financial issue, and I could barely make ends meet. 

When it comes to the academic part of the coursework, the international students can face even greater stress than other students. It takes me a lot of times to write one good essays because I have to go to tutoring at least twice. For exams, even if I know the content, I will still get confused by the vocabulary and answer incorrectly. As for the lectures, the pressure not only comes from the course material, but coping with the language barrier for international students who are not native English speakers.

“I am so tired with my academic study,” Yanran He said, a 21-year-old Chinese student majoring in music education. “As a music student, I am not good at general knowledge courses. With English as my second language, it is very difficult for me to handle a lot of projects, exams, essays and homework assignments. I face tremendous pressures during the lectures due to the language issues.”  

Studying for a bachelor’s degree is not an easy thing to do, especially when it comes to international students. Thus, looking for help and appropriate ways to vent can be very important for them.

CSULB offers a variety of programs that can help international students achieve their academic dreams. For academic problems, you can get help from writer’s resource lab in  LAB 206, and ESL language and writing tutoring at Horn Center. And don’t forget, you can always go to your teachers during office hours to get extra help.

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