by Jennifer Keil
Every academic year nearly one million international students come to the United States to study. Their hopes and expectations are so different from their origin, but one thing connects all of them: wanting to attend an academic program in the U.S.
”Oh you got accepted – that was the exciting part,“ said Xavier Moyalopez, a business management major from Belgium.”But then you have the stress part. I have to do a lot of paperwork, a lot of things, you go left to right.“
But organizing work is not the only difficult thing when studying abroad. Saying goodbye for a long time can be a journey in itself.
“I’ve partied every night before coming here,“ Moyalopez said. “A different group of friends every time.“
This can be exciting and terrifying at the same time for friends, family and the student.
“I think my family were more excited for me than I was,“ Moyalopez said. “My grandma cried, my mom cried, my aunt cried so we were just excited.“
The real journey starts after international students arrive at Troy University. Experiencing a different culture from your own can be both exciting and overwhelming, however, some students are excited to learn.
“I want to go to a real southern BBQ place,” said Gigi Demurel, a junior computer science major from Belgium. “I want to travel outside of Alabama, and I want to see neighboring states.“
Kaydee Giele, a senior business administration major from Belgium, is also looking forward to seeing what Alabama has to offer.
“I want to make a lot of American friends, people from around here and maybe they show me around,“ Gielen said. “I also hope I can join some groups, and maybe travel around the country a bit.“
For both international and domestic students, meeting new people can be an intimidating aspect to overcomes.
“I was like: if I don’t meet anyone in Troy, I will be alone for four months,“ Moyalopez said. “That was kind of scary.“
It is not only the new culture and experiences that bring international students to Troy, it is also a chance to study their chosen field.
“I try to meet a lot [of] new people and try to experience the American culture as much as I can while simultaneously getting good grades,” Hallberg said.
However, not only is the American culture different for most of the students, the education system is as well.
“It makes me think about high school again,“ Gielen said. “You’re in smaller groups, you have way more assignments, you do group works and that’s a really big difference with the university in my country.“
“Here are a lot of opportunities to get engaged, do sports, meet people, have fun social gatherings, and joining clubs,” Demurel said.
One thing that a majority of international students can agree on is that domestic students at Troy University are welcoming and friendly toward those new to the country..
“If you have a question or a problem they help you even though they don’t have any responsibilities to do so,“ Hallberg said.
The Conversation Partners Program is open to all students, allowing Domestic and International students to learn from one another. As a volunteer you spend one hour per week talking to international students and helping them improve their English conversational skills. To participate, students should write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, August 26th.