At Kansas State, we have approximately 2,000 international students from 110 different countries. What can we, as a campus, do to make the American collegiate experience more worthwhile?
Meeting some of these students is a good place to start. You can’t expect to form a great friendship in a couple days, though. It may take some time. In the meantime, we can look at various things that international students might find helpful.
Amir Pshenov, sophomore in political science who is originally from Kazakhstan, currently calls Moore Hall his home. Overall, Pshenov is mostly happy with K-State.
“I saw movies of American college life and it is kind of accurate,” Pshenov said. “That’s not a bad thing.”
It may not be a bad thing, but there are things we can do to make it better.
A big difficulty for international students has to be the language barrier. Learning English can be very challenging and take a lot of time. Even the way we enunciate our words is different than the way our friends over in Europe do. Pshenov said that he learned the British version of English. At first he struggled with some of the differences, like “can’t”, but has learned over the years.
Daily practice can be a big help with understanding the small quirks of our wacky English language. Having conversations can really help international students.
This isn’t just something Pshenov is bothered by, but other international students as well. Augusto Scavone, freshman in architecture, said he had similar problems.
Scavone, originally from Paraguay, said he would like to see more integration for students across the globe. That one has to be on us. The residence halls often house international students together. Scavone said he would prefer a choice. How about an option to choose between someone from your home country or an American student?
While the university may try their best to make the students feel closer to home, treating international students the same as regular students has to be a top priority.
It’s not just in the residence halls; there is a lack of integration all over. A separate orientation week creates another barrier.
For many students, orientation isn’t just about picking classes, but it’s about making connections with fellow classmates, something that traditional students might take for granted.
Faisal Almadani, junior in physics who is originally from the United Arab Emirates, is also understandably annoyed with our backwards process.
“I highly doubt that people around the world came to Kansas so they could hangout with their countrymen,” Almadani said.
K-State needs to bring international students into our culture instead of making assumptions that they don’t agree with.
“We don’t want a parallel universe,” Almadani said.
Let’s face it, there’s too much segregation on our campus, but how do we change it?
The answer is simple and I’ve hinted at it several times already. As a community, K-state and its students have to be more accepting. Inclusion is everything and is paramount to creating an environment that is worth leaving your home country for.
So, what can we as American students do to bolster the experience for non-traditional students? It’s all about extending the hand of companionship and trying to get to know our fellow students.