Michelle Molodynia —
Forbes magazine calculated our current population of students on campus to be approximately 21,239. Two percent of these students are considered “non-resident aliens.” It might sound small, but that means close to 425 students who are on our campus and in your classes are from a different country and most of the time, from a different continent. For those who have never been to another country before, this means that those 425 students are strangers to your lovely home, known as the United States.
Why do I bring this up? Because, I am one of those 425 students. I am from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada and I’ve been here, in Louisville for just over three years now. Many of us “foreigners,” as we’ve been called, come to do collegiate schooling in the United States for two main reasons. One, we are here on an international exchange program. Two, which is the reason that I am here, is that we are on a school visa because we received some type of athletic scholarship. Either way, we are in a new country, with new rules and guidelines and are still having to adjust to the new life: the college life. The international student can sometimes be overlooked and passed along as just another student, but we tend to forget one important factor: this student, who speaks multiple different languages (English rarely being one of them), who eats different foods and who uses different terminology is trying to figure out his or her schedule just like yourself. On top of that, they are also trying to learn how to communicate with you that they really have to go to something called “the washroom,” meaning restroom, a term that you have never heard of before. Thankfully, I am not as foreign as some internationals, but the struggles are still very real regardless of country of origin. The smallest thing, such as not having an American phone when you first arrive can make all the difference, and acquiring a cell phone as a foreigner is another battle in it’s own.
These are small daily struggles that the international students encounter, ones that are second nature to most of you. It’s absolutely crazy, the amount of things that we, the student population as a whole, tend to worry about when enrolling in college. We won’t be able to truly appreciate and understand though how easy that transition to college is until we decide to walk in another cardinal’s shoes, specifically those indigenous to other countries.