Coming from England to the United States to attend college, I’ve realized I don’t always speak the same language. One of the first things I learned at a men’s soccer game was not to use the phrase “hot and bothered.”In England this phrase is used when you feel agitated, flustered or uncomfortable. In America, it means something very different… It’s times like these that I appreciate Urban Dictionary and American friends who educate me on such terms.
Even though the US is a predominantly English speaking country like England, it is still a foreign country to me and a whole different culture. Which is why I, like many other international students, get so frustrated that we have the same SST requirements as everyone else on campus.
I was due to go to Peru in the spring of 2018, but shortly after signing up I realized that it I wouldn’t be able to go due to the cost, since I live off-campus. Flights to England aren’t cheap, so paying for SST on top of that wasn’t going to be possible.
After sulking about the situation and being moody that I was missing out on such an exciting experience, I started looking at the alternative classes that I was required to take.
When I realized that I needed 12 credits, I was surprised. SST is promoted and advertised as a study abroad term, something that I’ve been doing for the past two years. I thought it was unfair that I was required to juggle around my schedule to fit in all these alternative classes when I’m already studying abroad.
I then became more frustrated when I found out how some majors, such a nursing, only require six credits worth of alternative classes, due to their hectic schedules. If nursing majors are given the benefit of the doubt, then surely international students should be too.
What really got me is when I discovered that Arts in London was considered an SST Alternative. A three-week trip to the capital city of the country that I’d lived in for first 18 years of my life counted for students as a SST alternative, but me living in America for nine months of the year for four years counted for nothing.
I’m not saying that international students should get a free pass from taking SST alternatives, but I do believe that we should be required to take less credits because we’ve already crossed cultural boundaries and experience it for a much longer period of time.
Before arriving at Goshen, I’d never even heard of the term Mennonite. I’d never sat at a restaurant with the person behind me clearly displaying a gun in their holster, and I’d never experienced an American education system with its GPAs and credits. I still have to go through my papers and essays to change English spellings and phrases to American and almost always miss something — miss too many and it starts to lower my grade.
These are just a few of the many cultural differences that I and many other international students face. One of the hardest is homesickness. It’s common for most people to miss home at some part of their time at college, but my homesickness stems from missing the culture I was raised in. I can’t even go to the pub and have a beer and I’m yet to find decent fish & chips.
Here at Goshen, there are times when I feel as though I don’t fit in because of my different background. When I say something that no one else understands or can relate to it can get really lonely, especially when people reminisce about the things they remember from their childhood. But having the three English lads here, Ethan Francois-Ravalier, Ollie Smith and TJ White to have a catch up with helps.
All these difficulties are the price I pay in order to study and play soccer abroad. Although it can be difficult at times, I have no regrets. I appreciate the opportunity and experience that I’ve been given.
But it does frustrate me that international students are offered no recognition for their choice to study abroad when it comes to SST alternative credits.
If it’s acceptable that certain majors don’t have to achieve the full 12 credits, then it should be acceptable that international students shouldn’t have to either.