Before starting my internship with International Oasis, I only had a small glimpse of the privileges I hold as a traditional student studying in my home country.
Through my interactions with these students served by International Oasis, it became evident that there is so much more to their journeys than simply being an international student.
In order to study here, they must obtain VISAs, find living accommodations, pass entrance exams before enrolling in credits for their majors, and that’s all without the pressure of finding a community. Not to mention the cast expense of all of these necessary steps. On average, tuition for international students is almost double (sometimes more depending on the university and the weight their name carries academically).
After hearing about what it entails to just get here, I’m not sure that I would have the endurance to survive the transition away from home to a foreign country for schooling. Education is tasking enough, and now you’re combining it with (often times) learning a new language, having to navigate a new town, and also keep up with academics.
The more I got to meet with and talk to international students, the more I became aware of just how courageous they are. I’ve heard countless stories of re-filing paperwork for acceptance, learning how to roll over service providers so you can use your mobile device, and changing currencies or bank accounts so that the money they so painstakingly saved can be spent here in the States.
As I grew to understand the reality of so many of my misconceptions of international students, I couldn’t help but realize how privileged I am.
Since I am a traditional American college student, I have a degree that some are willing to cross oceans to earn. I spend time wishing I could be halfway across the world, while there are some spending their entire lives working towards getting to be right where I am.
The education I have easy access to is not to take lightly. I didn’t have to apply for a VISA, and while I grieve the loans I’ll be paying back someday, I’m paying a quite reasonable rate at the end of the day.
A lot of the time, I think that it’s easy to see someone different doing the same thing as us and start to make judgments. I am not free of this. However in order to truly help others, we need to check our privilege and our preconceptions. If we do not posture ourselves in a state of being open to hear and understand, we cannot offer help no matter how hard we attempt to.
Written by Lauren Jurczyszyn