10 Things Only International Students Understand


As fun as it is to move to a completely foreign place and go to college, there are some things you have to deal with because of it. Here are 10 things only international students understand.

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1. People are constantly asking why you chose to come here.

The first thing they want to know is, “why?” I, for one, never had an answer other than, “I wanted to,” and people seem disappointed at how boring my response is.

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2. You’re expected to have an accent.

English isn’t my first language and telling me my English is good is a compliment 99% of the time, but when everyone you meet frowns upon the lack of your foreign accent, you start feeling a little self conscious.

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3. You constantly get asked about post-graduation plans.

“What are you going to do after you graduate?” I don’t know man, I don’t even. Maybe I’ll get a job and stay here. Maybe I’ll go to a different country. Maybe I’ll go back home. In due time, my friend.

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4. People assume international students are rich.

This would be cool, but it’s not necessarily true. Our parents usually think about college way ahead of time. Most of us come from countries where college is free so our parent’s investment is well thought out. We most definitely are not here to make it rain.

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5. You’re expected to have everything figured out.

Our parents may have had this planned out for a while but trust us, we’re just going with the flow. Yeah we may have come here with a few things in mind, but that all fizzled out after we changed our major twice.

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6. You don’t understand most slang words.

International students understand that those English proficiency tests don’t actually tell us how well we’ll do speaking with locals. We most likely won’t know your slang, especially if it’s “A Jersey thing” or some other incredibly specific term.

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7. There is always some sort of ignorance regarding your country.

Most people we meet are aware of at least the existence of our country, and some have extensive knowledge of it. The ones that don’t know about it usually ask politely, but we have all met those people that are just plain rude. I’ve been asked some crazy questions, like if we have schools in my country, or windows in our houses.

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8. You get pointed out in class.

Imagine being in a chemistry lecture and having the professor give you a shout out every time the metric system is discussed.

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9. You miss home.

Now this one can go for all the college students that live away from home, but international students understand this on a different level. You can’t go home for holidays. You won’t see your family more than once a year and you can’t call whenever you feel like it because of the time difference.

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10. You’re proud of yourself.

For all the times we’re confused and feeling out of place, we have happy streaks where we feel really good about ourselves. We’ve learned a foreign language, moved thousands of miles away, and are dealing with everything like rockstars. Superheroes? Pretty much.

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Hebist Asfaw

Hebist is a student at Slippery Rock University majoring in Public Health. She is passionate about healthcare, living in faith, and adores coffee and cats. You can find her writing at her personal blog Adarlingworld.com

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