Living in a different country is not as easy as many people might imagine. Financial issues, homesickness, a language barrier, culture shock, and loneliness are among the largest struggles many international students have to face in America.
The U.S. is appealing to international students who are pursuing higher education.
OCCC’s enrollment records show that the number of F-1 international student visas for students enrolled in the Fall of 2015 increased to 492 students from 385 in the Fall 2014 semester.
School records note that international students attending OCCC hail from 53 separate countries.
China, Nepal, Vietnam, South Africa, South Korea, Cameroon, Kenya, India, Bangladesh and Nigeria make up the top 10 nations for sending international students to the college.
There is a variety of reasons that foreign students might decide to study in American or in the state of Oklahoma in particular.
Public relations major Ke Le Ki, from China, said he views America as a country that provides a good higher educational system that is important for his future career.
Nursing major Thaysarye Moo, from Myanmar, said she has been in America more than seven years with her family after coming to reunite with her uncle.
“I think starting at OCCC is easy and also there are many international students from many different countries studying here,” she said.
Moo said from her point of view, America ranks high in many categories. High working standards and the high quality of education were attractive to her.
Modern Language Professor Abra Figueroa said the main reason that foreign students travel to the U.S. is for the opportunity of high quality in education.
“We still are the leaders in the world in education, especially in university level,” she said.
Figueroa said Oklahoma has appealing factors such as affordable tuition fees, safety and low cost of living.
“Also, some foreign students are looking for freedom, not in every case, but in some cases,” she said.
Figueroa said American students can benefit from the presence of international students because many young Oklahomans do not have opportunities to travel outside America. Interacting with out-of-country students gives American students a chance to learn about other places directly and gain a unique perspective, she said.
“I think Oklahoman young people here are very curious about other countries and really enjoy their friendships with international students,” Figueroa said.
Multicultural English professor Mark Zindelo said foreign students all differ in their reasons for coming to study in America.
“They are coming from so many different backgrounds and so many different countries,” he said.
Zindelo said many of these students have chosen Oklahoma City because the city is a fairly safe place.
Living and studying in America, however, can be very difficult for international students, Zindelo said.
“English is just one of the problems they are facing,” he said. “Even though a lot go to schooling in their home country. Maybe they study English for a long time, they haven’t studied it at the rate of speech — Americans talk sometimes really fast. And they are not used to hearing that.”
Zindelo said foreign students struggle sometimes to understand their classes and can find following their teachers challenging.
“Some other challenges are, of course, culture shock, food and homesickness,” he said.
Zindelo said the biggest challenge of all is being in a different environment where there is nobody who is a friend, or no one be there for them – which often makes international students feel isolated and alone.
“There is one thing that I love about them so much, is that they work so hard,” he said.
“American students study hard too, but international students are working three times that hard.”
Zindelo said he is also impressed by the way international students talk about their country.
“They make me dream of a different life and living a different life,” he said.