Did you ever think about what it takes for an international student to come to America for a college education? They have to leave their family and friends, just as we do, but at a much farther distance. I cannot imagine amount of money and time it must take to plan a trip across the world, all for a new, exciting learning experience.
Right now, many of us have just moved to a large university and begun a life on our own. It seems like a tough idea to grasp when you are just starting to look at colleges, while still in high school or another point in your life. When the time comes, though, hopefully you will be ready for a change. International students have to live through this same situation, at an even larger scale.
I met Jennifer Kuesar the first day I came to Barton Residence Hall, my current residence. I was very nervous, anticipating the time when I would see my living space for the next year. I hoped that there would be some other girls their to meet and talk to about my life at Iowa State University. Luckily, I was in the right place at the right time. Jennifer is a 20-year-old, sophomore, working toward a degree in food science. She was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, and then moved to East Kalimantan, but her family now resides in Jamarinda. She has moved around quite a bit in her life. That may be why her journey to this university has not been as terrifying as it has been for her other friends.
Jennifer says that English is a foreign language in Indonesia. You take it as a class, just as an American would take a Spanish class in school. Her first language is Indonesian. Within her family, everyone knows how to speak English except for her mother, as they all travel to the U.S. for business and vacation. Jennifer learned to speak the slang of the English language while living in the Freeman Residence Hall last year. She likes the Iowa State campus, as it is comfortable to her.
I asked Jennifer what some of the differences are here in America as compared to Indonesia. She said that the classes in her city were small and students were to shy to ask questions. Here, there are larger classes and more active students. She also said that people converse a lot more here than in Indonesia. Americans spend a lot more time interacting in this way. One trivial fact I learned was that in Indonesia you become boyfriend or girlfriend with someone before you go on any dates. Here, of course, it is usually the opposite case.
Jennifer also told me of a few similarities she has noticed while spending time in the U.S. First, we are all students, working toward a goal. Each person has his or her own personal goal and way of working. Also, group work is an enormous part of the Iowa State community. She said that in Indonesia, group work is not encouraged quite as much, but it is still an important element of a good education.
Also, imagine what international students think about the terrorism of the last week....