January 26, 2020

Studying Away From Home

In pursuit of an academic experience, leaving behind friends and family to fly across the country can be overwhelming. Being a college student already comes with its own set of challenges, now imagine doing that in a foreign country. 

4.6 million international students were enrolled in 2017, 1.1 million of those students studied abroad in the United States. 

The U.S. is a popular destination for study abroad students to travel, considering that it hosts the largest number of international students. Following the U.S., additional top destinations include the United Kingdom and China. 

According to data from the Institute of International Education (IIE), the major states with the most International students include Massachusetts, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. 

At Northampton Community College, the global diversity on campus is significant. If you’ve ever taken a look at the flags in the cafeteria, each one represents a country where an international student has come from in order to study at NCC. 

“The U.S. is unique,” said Dario Paz, first year Electronic Technology major from Columbia, “When I went to Mexico it was an amazing culture. But here, there’s people from all over the place of all different cultures”. 

Adjusting can be difficult for some, but immersing yourself into the study abroad culture takes time. 

“Small things I found are the most challenging. It’s the big things you think you need to worry about” said Paz. “For example, your lunch is my dinner. And your dinner is my lunch. My food portions and eating habits have changed since I’ve lived here”. 

“I found that American culture and emotions are very different. Here people are more independent and self-focused and the community is very helpful,” said Juan Pablo Adames Castillo, first year Electronics Technology major from Domincan Republic. 

The great thing about international students is that they enrich cultural diversity on campus. Since these students come from different backgrounds they allow U.S. students to interact with people of different ethnic cultures, languages, and traditions. 

“In D.R. it was a lot of just Dominicans unless you were a tourists. Here you can find someone from anywhere everywhere” Castillo said. 

Adapting to a new environment and connecting with a foreign culture is a challenge but the experience gained in the end is well worth the  struggle.

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