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Gaining Independence as an International Student away from Home

Preparing to come to college and during my first year, the most common question I got was why I was so stubborn to go on campus during this pandemic. As an international student from South Korea, my family was not supportive with my decision to stay and study abroad instead of going back to my home country with them. Although I spent my entire high school in the States, my family felt uncomfortable with leaving their daughter alone, especially during the pandemic. My parents were facing tiny worries from how I am going to cook or do laundry to big worries, such as what I am going to do with my insurance, bank account, visa, and all the others. Even at the airport, they held my hand and told me to let them know when I change my mind. Now 10 months later, I am still here at Rochester away from my family. 


College could be hard for everyone and for me, it has always been too hard. Living away from family and not knowing when I will be able to see them again, it is hard. Without the pandemic, I will be planning my flights to go visit them over the summer and be excited from now. But since last June, I have not seen them and still have absolutely no clue when I will see them again. I feel really lonely as I watch all of my suitemates call their family to talk about their school life every single day – I can’t call my family often since we have a 15 hour time difference. I face  other challenges, academically and socially  in college, and on top of them, not having the emotional support I used to always have was not helping in any way. 


But going through this almost a year of not being with my family, I also gained independence from my family. Unlike high school, when I was very dependent on my mom, I’m slowly growing out of that phase. I’ve started to become my own person, choosing for my own. Yes, sometimes I make dumb decisions and regret until this moment, but that’s still something, right? I failed and now I know what to not choose or do. I am pretty sure I will make more stupid mistakes and sometimes even get me in trouble, but I am no longer afraid of choosing for myself. Also, spending  time by myself I am truly learning who I am and trying to like it. Being alone has always been hard, yet it’s also been amazingly transformative. I am learning how to stop relying on my family too much. I will go out and take care of myself as my parents would have done for me in my life before college. 


I’m looking forward to the day when I can see my family again but I also appreciate the given alone time. Next time I’ll see them, I will probably be a better person than I was–at least more independent.

Sue Kim

RIT '24

My name is Sue, 1st year at Advertising Photography major. I am highly interested in photography and animals.
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