Challenges of being an International Student

My name is Akasha Campbell. I am an international student from Hong Kong. My family moved to Saudi Arabia directly before I arrived at McDaniel College. I arrived on campus in August 2022 from my new home in Saudi Arabia.  

When I arrived on campus, I met a few other international students who I became friends with, and I also made friends with locals by joining some clubs and organizations. I believe that it is important for the McDaniel community to understand my challenges because the way I spell certain words should not be a place for people to be able to either correct the spelling or make fun of the way I pronounce words, especially if it is correct where I come from.  

Finally, I believe that it is important for the community to understand my challenges because I think it is important for the community to understand that it is difficult for me to talk to my family on weekdays due to me studying and the fact that there is a major time difference. This leads me to feel a little homesick. Additionally, not having access to food from my home country does not make me feel any better.  

 One form of homesickness which I feel is missing my family because I do not have the convenience of going home to them every holiday. On top of that, I miss the food, I get at home like ramen, dim sum, and a lot of spicy foods which I cannot find in America.  

There are a few different ways I try not to feel “sick with American food.” The first way is by eating food that I know cannot go wrong when being cooked or made. The second way is by delivering Asian cuisine type food via DoorDash to outside my building, so I can feel less homesick and enrich myself in my home culture more. The final way is by going to cheapish Japanese or Chinese restaurants nearby when I feel like it. This is because I want to get the experience of American Asian food and compare it to how accurate they make it to my home country.  

The second challenge I face is the fear of people not understanding my cultural differences, like why I spell and pronounce words differently from Americans. I have had an experience where one of the theatre professors saw me spell the honour code with a u corrected me because I am going to an American college, and I guess she felt like she needed to mention the fact that I should spell words the American way. I also had the experience where a couple of professors preferred if I spelled coloured and summarized, the American way because I go to an American college and should know both ways but were not too judgmental when I did not. Finally, students who do not know me think that it is okay and funny to make fun of the way that I switch back and forth from an American and British accent. This does not happen anymore because I stopped spending time with these types of people since it annoyed me, and my real friends understand that I am international.  

The final challenge which I face is getting my F-1 visa renewed yearly. The first way I tried to solve this problem was by emailing the international office about having to renew my visa semesterly because I must renew it before going home for the winter and summer break. The second way which I would solve this problem is by asking my international peer mentors when the best time to ask the international office to sign my F1 visa for the next semester. The final way which I would solve this problem is by backtracking to when I had to get my F1 visa re-signed before going on Winter Break and counting to the second last week of the Spring semester because I will know that date is when I must ask the office to sign it again before I go back home.  

In conclusion, it is important for the McDaniel community to understand the challenges of being an international student. Although the community understands that every American culture is different, I think it is important for them to understand cultural differences outside of America.