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BG Falcon Media

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BG Falcon Media

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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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World students adapt

Adapting to a new style of food, language or climate along with being thousands of miles away from home and making new friends are challenges that many international students have to overcome.

International students make up about three percent of the population at the University, said Katie Baxter, Graduate Assistant for the Center for International Programs.

That 3 percent accounts for a total of 610 international students and Baxter would like to see an increase in the numbers.

They bring a different perspective to the campus and the classroom, Baxter said.

“A lot of BGSU students won’t have the chance to leave the country or travel very much,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for those students to sit in a classroom next to someone from Kenya or India and hear about how they grew up and how they might have a different perspective on the same issue based on their country and values.”

Kavin Mehta, a graduate student from India, arrived here in June and had to become accustom to the weather and the fact that the sun set around 9 p.m.

“The sun rises at six and sets at six no matter what in India,” Mehta said.

Kavin Mehta said the most appealing part about the University was that they offered him a tuition waiver.

The low cost of living was also a factor in Mehta’s decision to pursue a graduate degree here.

“A major part about Northwest Ohio that made it so appealing is that it is much cheaper to live here, which helps out a lot,” Mehta said. “You can easily survive working 10 to 20 hours a week.”

One of the biggest misconceptions that Mehta has experienced, is that he can’t speak English.

“People from India learn English as their first language,” he said.

Adjusting to the different types of food was the hardest part to overcome for Joseph Juma, a freshman from Kenya.

Juma said the fact that most of the food here is genetically modified was hard to believe because it is something he used to see only on TV and in the movies.

“Back home, most of the food is direct from the farm and you get it while it’s still fresh,” he said. “Here, it’s different because there’s canned food and fast food.”

People in the United States tend to speak more openly than in places such as Kenya.

Atheist is a word that Juma only knew from the dictionary and has met people who do not believe in God since moving here.

“Back home, even though some people don’t care about God, to some extent, they believe there is a God somewhere,” Juma said. ” Here, someone tells you openly, ‘I am an atheist,'” he said.

Also, the fact that people freely express their homosexuality and have rights as homosexuals is very different from the culture in Kenya. The few lesbians and gays that are in Kenya try to keep it secret, Juma said.

Education systems differ across the country in their levels of difficulty and expectations. Juma said the system here is a little easier, compared to the education system in Kenya.

“Free points just for attending class and curves is something you will never get back home,” he said.

Arup Chakraborty, another student from India, agrees that the education system in his home country is better, more competitive and more rigorous than it is here.

“I never felt stressed while I studied in India,” Chakraborty said. “Unfortunately, over here I’m so stressed. I’m a teaching assistant as well as a student, and the teaching, course-work and research is giving me a hard time.”

Being a foreigner in any country is difficult, and overcoming challenges and barriers is a part of adapting to a new life style.

Xuan Wan is a graduate student from China that has been here for five years. The biggest challenge for Wan is not being able to always communicate to others.

“I have a problem expressing myself correctly and people don’t understand,” she said.

Although the language barrier is hard to break, people at the University and in the community have a reputation for being very friendly and polite toward international students.

“People here are very friendly and sometimes I think professors are even more friendly because I am an international student,” Wan said.

Most students don’t usually think of school as a privilege, but treat it as a chore.

Nzube Okonkwo from Nigeria is in his second year at the University and is appreciative of the education and the facilities that are available to him.

Okonkwo said the education system is poor in Nigeria because of their lack of facilities and the unwillingness of the instructors to teach.

“In my chemistry lab here, if you want a chemical you have a proper way to get it,” he said. “In my country you have to use your mouth to siphon the chemicals out.”

Okonkwo said that part of the reason this situation exists in Nigeria is because the government does not care about the people. Teachers in Nigeria refuse to teach because they do not get paid very well.

“You basically have to teach yourself,” he said.

Okonkwo said Nigeria is an extremely corrupt place and mostly everything there is about money.

“If you don’t have money, it will be hard to survive,” he said.

Okonkwo said it didn’t matter what grades students get, but how much money students can pay to get into college. The fact that money is the only ticket to an education in Nigeria may be a reason why a lot of kids don’t go to school and have to beg on the streets.

“You see five-year-old girls selling oranges on the streets, and you can’t do anything about it because the government won’t do anything about it,” Okonkwo said.

Okonkwo has not been back to Nigeria since coming to the United States two years ago. Part of the reason is because of the freedom he experiences here in the U.S.

“In Nigeria, my dad was very strict,” Okonkwo said. “Right now I am really free and I do what I want to do.”

International students bring with them their experiences and their backgrounds and it adds a lot to the community here, Baxter said.

“Students come to college to learn new things and there is a lot to be learned from people with different ideas,” she said.

American students are encouraged to have conversations with international students, Baxter said.

“It’s okay to ask about where they are from,” she said. “International students are glad to talk about their country and where they are coming from. I encourage students to not be afraid to ask those questions and find out a little bit more about international students.”

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