What International Students Think About Iowa

Traveling on your own to a new country that speaks a language different than yours can be terrifying. Despite that, students from all over the world decide to give it a chance and study abroad. The University of Iowa hosts 3,056 international students, according to the University's data from the fall 2018 semester.

I interviewed three international students to find out about their experience and what they think of Iowa now that they are here. 

Where are you from?

Student A: I am from South Korea.

Student B: I am from Chengdu in Sichuan Province, China.

Student C: I come from China, and my hometown is Chengdu in Sichuan Province.

Why did you come to Iowa?

Student A: I came to Iowa because it had a good education program for my major and the University of Iowa has a cheap tuition fee.

Student B: I got accepted to the University and the standard of living is cheaper. Also, I heard that Iowa City is a musical town. I'm actually going to a jazz performance later.

Student C: I had already studied for two years at Sichuan University in China before I joined the study abroad program, and the target university is the University of Iowa. 

What is your favorite thing about Iowa?

Student A: My favorite thing about Iowa is that I get to meet people that are from diverse countries and there are a lot of clubs and organizations that I can join and meet a lot of new people.

Student B: The people.

Student C: People here are so friendly, and they give me a lot of help in my life or in the university. They are patient and nice.

What is your least favorite thing?

Student A: I cannot find one so far.

Student B: The food. 

Student C: To be honest, I don’t like the weather at all during the winter. It’s freezing! It is also difficult for walking to some buildings.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Student A: I like to listen to music, travel, and go shopping.

Student B: I hang out with friends and go to my part-time job in the dining hall at Burge. I also like to watch Netflix.

Student C: In fact, I am a lazy person, so I prefer to stay in my room during my spare time. I watch Netflix and sometimes I will eat something with my best friend.

What would you say is the biggest difference between Iowa and your hometown?

Student A: My hometown, which is in the capital city of Korea, Seoul, is an extremely crowded place, whereas Iowa is a really quiet place to be in.

Student B: There are not as many people on the street. I don’t have to worry about getting hit by bicycles. Hundreds of bicycles…

Student C: The biggest difference I feel is the food. Of course, American food is different from Chinese food, especially in my hometown, the dishes are very spicy. 

How do you cope with being so far from your family?

Student A: I FaceTime them at least 4 times a week.

Student B: It was tough at the beginning, but now I feel released. I can do anything I want. 

Student C: I will have a video chat with my parents every Saturday, and I also share my interesting things with them. During the summer break and winter break, I will go back.

Was there anything about Iowa that shocked you?

Student A: The corn fields were unfamiliar to me.

Student B: This just shocked me about America in general, but that American girls wear leggings as pants. When I first saw a girl wearing them I thought she forgot to wear pants! 

Student C: The weather, as I said before. It is so cold in winter. I also feel surprised that people have an open-mind to LGBTQ+ group. Everyone is a free person.

Would you recommend Iowa to others?

Student A: Yes, because the school is such a great place to be in.

Student B: Yes, I would! Everyone should come to Iowa City, but not in the winter.

Student C: Yes, of course! People are nice in here and Iowa is safe and quiet. I love it!

What advice would you give to students interested in studying abroad?

Student A: Try to speak English as much as you can, and make a lot of foreign friends because you will not get much of those opportunities in your hometown.

Student B: Get out of your comfort zone and talk to people from other countries.

Student C: If you meet some problems or challenges, don’t be shy and afraid, just ask for help. Your professor, your classmates and your friends will help you a lot. That will make you feel much better.

Studying abroad is an amazing way to learn about new cultures, but it's not the only way. Talking with international students has broadened my view of the world. One of my best friends is from China and while I have taught her things about America, she has also taught me a lot about China that I didn't know. She also offered to let me stay at her house if I ever travel to her hometown. There is a lot we can learn from others if we're willing to have a conversation!