Pandemic brings extra challenges for international students

Isolation, unfamiliar customs, tendency to suffer in silence all take a toll

Lots of people lost their jobs due to the pandemic and the strict quarantine restrictions. It is not easy to find a stable income source and not get sick on the job.

This is extra hard on the college students. Most of them are away from their families, and going to school and working is commendable. The stress from both school and work adds to their shoulder. However, there are still ways for most American college students to solve their problems. Such as food banks and stimulus checks from the government also loans to pay for housing and school. A group of students doesn’t have access to all of these benefits and has to pay extra on school housing and tuition. They are coming from different countries and hoping to get the best education and bright future. They are international students.

Lily Truong is a Vietnamese international student who is currently working at OIP at Edmonds college. She started to work for OIP ( Office of International Programs) a while ago before the pandemic began. She said international students faced many challenges, even before the pandemic hit.

“The biggest challenge would be the language,” Truong said. Growing up in a different country means having a different culture and language. It takes a while to get used to American culture and some time adjusting. English as a second language means they need more time to process information when it comes to working.

Then there is the second challenge, missing home. It is a long and expensive flight away from home, sometimes all students can do is call home when they miss their family and friends. “The Vietnam food here is not the same compared to where I am from,” Truong said. There is a saying of “a full stomach makes people stop overthinking because all the blood circulation went to the stomach instead of the mind.”

I’m not sure if it is true, but I do feel happier after having lunch.

It also explains why there are so many different types of restaurants in America. When people are far away from home, sometimes only delicious hometown food can soothe them.

Imagine moving to a country when you just graduated from high school, where there are different cultures and languages. People eat and dress entirely differently. On top of that, you have to adapt quickly. I would say this feels very stressful. This would be a very challenging time but also an experience they would never forget. The third biggest challenge would be mental health. If it is stressful to be a college student, to be an international student means every kind of stress times 10.

“More than their white counterparts, students of color are less likely to report that they feel academically or emotionally prepared,” writes Rahil Kamath in The Columbia Daily Spectator. “They are also more likely to keep the difficulty of college to themselves, meaning they are more likely to suffer in silence and not reach out for help.”

Sometimes depression almost feels like a black hole; everything gets sucked up in here, including happiness. People should realize how hard it is to be away from their family and friends and live and study in a foreign country. It is tough to be an international student, and all they do is want to have a good education. There is so much crime against race happening, and I hope there would be less hate towards any color/religion/gender. Sometimes anything could mean so much more to a person going through a hard time in life.

“I would do Yoga sometimes and try to meditate every morning after I woke up,” Truong said. “It helps me to keep a clear mind and be happier.”

I think it is impressive how she is an excellent student at school and has a part-time job. She works very hard to keep her life balance and maintain a positive attitude.