The 5 elements of being an international student

As a student, the school life has, hasn’t or ever will be easy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to make you question what you’re doing with your life or how you should spend it. I’m here for the sole reason to bring international students across the globe to discuss and reflect on our international school experiences. Remember nursery? Remember all those break times, you spent with your best friend playing tag? Remember nap time? All these things bring us fond memories of school. I recall my principal in primary school saying “You lot are very lucky to be able to go this school. To have access to all of these facilities. To be able to graduate from this school gives you plenty of opportunities…” I guess I never took it seriously back then, but now I understand what he meant. As an international student first arriving at your school or university, you find yourself feeling a certain way. You feel your just a foreigner, going to school day in day out… trying to discover yourself. However, when it’s time for you to leave, your devastated. It’s because you’ve made such good friends, people that you’ll never want to leave, people that you know will always be there for you. It’s the beauty of being an international student, you come a stranger, but leave with some of the greatest relationships you will ever have. As an international student, you can probably break down your school experience into 5 topics.

Culture. Understanding, and getting to know a new culture is 1 of the biggest parts of being an international student. Culture, It’s interesting isn’t it? I’d probably say it’s 1 of the most important aspects to understand when going to an international school. I personally have always gotten along with the people in my class. I think a reason for that is because I made sure people respected my beliefs and culture and I did the same to others. I remember in primary school I was 1 of the few people that was friends with everyone in the class. From my experience when you respect other people, they’ll respect you too.

Getting to know different cultures is only a good thing. Speaking in the long term, you never know where you are going to end up in the future. If you can pick up a few tips from your classmates now, that may give you an edge, then why not?

Lastly getting to experience another culture is great because it teaches you things you otherwise wouldn’t have learnt or experienced. There are some things you will learn that may not be the most helpful, like being able to whistle with a leaf, but there are other things you may have learnt. How to make origami, how to play football, and a bunch more. By experiencing a new culture we develop ourselves and expand our careers options in ways we wouldn’t have been able to.

The second thing I think really shows what it’s like to be an international student is how you change. What I mean by this is how people tend to change their mindset. Those kids you knew in primary that were so friendly, that always handed in their homework on time and were super polite. Then the same person has just completely changed a year or 2 afterwards. Of coarse everybody changes, but what I’m trying to point out is how drastic the changes are. Think about it, remember when you were 11,12 and look at how much you’ve changed now. Maybe back then you were the joker in class, making everyone crack up with your jokes and playing pranks on everyone, but now, you take school so much more serious. Your the one that does most of the work in group projects and you spend hours upon hours just editing your assignment.

Thirdly, is your stay and just how short they can be at times. As an international student you find yourself and your family travelling on a constant basis. We just constantly find ourselves travelling around the globe from country to country or continent to continent whether its because of our parents jobs or a countries situation. We are always on the move. The worst part of this is when we finally get used to the school system, our classmates, we feel we are starting to settle down and the next thing you know is your moving again. You have to start all over. After the 3rd or 4th time of you moving you just get tired of it. Sure, it’s exciting to move from place to place, but it gets a little frustrating going to school if you know you’re going to be moving again. I personally haven’t experienced it as badly as moving every 2 years, but I can imagine it must be frustrating to deal with, especially if there isn’t much you can do about it.

Time management. I don’t know about you but, at some of my schools that I had attended they tried to make us think about how we manage our time. We got presentations from the principal every now and then, and he highlighted how we should work hard at school, but also keep on doing the things we enjoyed, like football, basketball etc. He told us we can work as hard as possible, but if you don’t enjoy what your doing then whats the point? We often think of our futures and what we want to be doing by the time we are in our mid twenties. We get so caught up in school assignments and handing them in on time that we forget about ourselves, and our hobbies and doing the things we enjoy the most. I’ve always been taught to work hard, but I’ve also been told to lay it back a little too.

Finally, maybe the worst, most heart felt feeling of going to an international school is leaving your school or having a friend leave. I’m sure we can all recall a recent friend that has left our school. It’s moments like those you will always cherish. Or maybe it was you that left the school. It’s only then you realize how great of a relationship you have built with people. You also realize that person you barely ever talked to would have been really good friends with if you just talked to them more. Once you leave a school, it’s always one of the best highlights you will remember. When you hear all the things your fellow students say about you, and what your teachers say about you, you get inspired. You want to accomplish what they tell you.