The Struggles Of Being An International Student

There are moments in our lives where we have an out-of-body experience where we look back at our choices and assess our lives. Lately, it has been happening very frequently with me, and often I am left with more questions than when I began, but it does not stop me from doing it. The most recent episode began in the most chilling way possible...

It is chilling and very disconcerting to wake up and check the local news, only to find out there was a mass shooting somewhere nearby. That possibility has always been in the back of my mind as an International student. I will be honest, I do understand the reasoning behind that particular Constitutional Right and when playing the devil's advocate amongst people who just do not understand it, I do see why and how people can support guns in the first place. But that doesn’t mean I am comfortable with the actuality of it. And this latest shooting at Thousand Oaks, a few miles close to the dorm room I lie in so comfortably, isn’t helping with my usual compartmentalization of problems. Add that to the fires ravaging LA,  a reminder of the fire last year that was even closer, the question many people ask me begins to resurface: is it worth it?

Is studying at UCLA, one of the top universities where I am allowed to define the path I want and be who I want to be, worth the 12 hour time zone difference from home, the 16+hour flights, the 60K price tag? Is the language barrier going to be too severe? Is the complete lack of a structured support system going to make me fail? And these were just the basic logistical questions.Then you’ve the more emotional ones—do you not miss your parents? How often can you go back home to see family and friends? Do you have a stable support system in college? And then we’ve the topical ones—is it safe there? Get out when you hear loud voices in any crowded place! Don’t go out into town too late at night, especially clubs!

For me, I say yes. For me, it is worth it. While not ideal, I do get to try different things I never would have, I’ve met people that make life more interesting, explored many places and even aspects of my personality!

Yes, it is hard. I miss my family and barely get to talk to them. I’ve gone 6 months without seeing my parents and siblings and years without seeing my friends. I miss the food back home, but the flights home are too rough. I’m not sure how safe I am, but I can never be sure, so I am just going to roll with it. I try not to stay out too often and too late in shady areas.

Struggling with all these problems has helped me grow into a more mature person. I am not the same 17 year old who came to UCLA, and that’s good. Despite having my fears and trepidations when navigating the American college life, whether it be the tense political climate when it comes to immigration, or the general insanity of bureaucracy when filing documents to get a job or services as an international student, moving to UCLA has to be the best decision I made so far, and I plan on using it as much as I can.