The struggles of being an international student

Photo courtesy of Bristol University
Photo courtesy of Bristol University

On this beautiful fall day, Wheaton saw an influx of parents, siblings, babies and pets for Family Weekend. Witnessing these smiling faces and general merriment, I felt a single metaphorical tear roll down my cold cheek. Today reminded me that my family is an ocean away, and I won’t get to see them for at least eight more months. Being so far from your loved ones is one of the biggest challenges of being an international student.

Another struggle is trying to understand the fine nuances and social conventions of another culture. For me, these were a piece of cake compared to the complex and terrifying thing that is the American System of Measurement. Having used the Metric System for most of my life, my already math-deprived mind still cannot fathom sentences such as “Bro, I ran at least 3 miles during sports practice yesterday and it was just 50 degrees Fahrenheit! Afterwards, I ate at least 2 pounds of chicken and drank a pint of sports drink.”

Another difference in cultures is seen with names. While certain names ( Arnold, Schwarzenegger, Ben) have become internationally familiar due to Western media, this often does not go both ways. Anyone with an annoying name that is not pronounced how it is spelt will understand this struggle. I have often seen professors gasp, mumble and choke while trying to pronounce my name. Though this is understandable, certain people who refuse to try to learn claiming that they are “just bad with names” are not.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the standard Chase fare of dumplings, fried chicken, salad, sandwich, shaved ice and ice cream that was served for lunch today, there are some days when you crave the food of your homeland like a missing appendage. When it gets this bad, gastronomically-impaired persons such as myself will venture into the kitchen to dump some chilis on top of some potatoes and pray that everything turns out alright… F.Y.I: It doesn’t.

Though the small town atmosphere of Norton greatly resembles my own city, there are some days when one misses the certain feeling of warmth and comfort that can only be found walking down familiar city streets. Though the clean and organized streets of Boston will never cease to amaze, sometimes a girl just needs her mountains. Where are my mountains Norton?! WHERE?!

Yet in moments of rare introspection, these struggles seem trivial when I think about the fact that I am lucky enough to be an international student. Eventually, homesickness fades as you meet new people and explore new cities. The people who matter eventually learn how to say your name and you think less about your food as you discover large pizzas. You slowly learn how to navigate between two very different cultures… except Fahrenheit, I will NEVER understand Fahrenheit.