What it is like being an international student in the US

Mariami pictured in front of the Utica University entrance.

Mariami pictured in front of the Utica University entrance.

Mariami Kentchadze, Contributing Writer

Since international students are known to considerably benefit their schools and domestic peers by contributing to research, establishing international relationships, offering distinct perspectives, and developing multicultural environments that help local students, the desire to enhance the number of international students is largely driven.

I decided it would be interesting to discuss and express my views about the overall experience of being an international student in the U.S. I have been an international student here at Utica University ever since 2020. Changing my environment entirely, especially during the pandemic, was one of the most challenging things I have ever done in life. My world suddenly became full of uncertainty, and I frequently felt lost; However, I made an effort to pull myself back together and continue growing every single day.

So, what’s it like being an international student and what are the challenges international students face every day? The main issues and differences with living in the United States, even though somewhat similar, still differ from one person to another. One of the biggest issues for me became the distances involved in travel, the lack of public transportation; except in some larger cities, and difficulties with getting around without a car and a driver’s license. The scarcity of affordable options for organic, healthy food was another major problem for me, which was one of my biggest culture shocks since healthier food is significantly more affordable where I am from. Without a family in the country to ask for help, international students are vulnerable and overlooked. Not being in the same time zone as your loved ones is traditionally one of the struggles for internationals. Being an international student demands a major sacrifice of family time, in addition to the challenges of maintaining all of your other relationships. However, If you’re an international student, like me, you eventually grow to be quite grateful for all the social media platforms for allowing you to stay in touch with your loved ones. Another major concern for internationals usually is the difficulties one encounters when wanting to work in the United States. There are few to no jobs available for foreigners, especially if you are an international student, which leaves you dependent on your family member or a sponsor.

As an international student, you might have to put in more effort than others, you oftentimes need to be overqualified for a job, maintaining your immigration status must always be a top priority and in addition to everything else, you might frequently feel lost and alone. However, all of this is exactly what will help you become a better professional, develop personally, and grow into a stronger person, in my opinion. By being an international student, you invest into your future by trading certainties for various opportunities and possibilities. And even though all of this has been one of the hardest challenges I faced in life, it has also been one of the most important ones for my development.