Writer explores the experiences of first-year international students at F&M

By Hannah LaChance || Contributing Writer

Thanks to media portrayal, books like Eat, Pray, Love, and childhood movies like Selena Gomez’s Monte Carlo, the idealization of traveling internationally is culturally instilled from youth. Traveling the world is something that’s on the bucket lists of many. Whether they actually follow through with it or not, people seem to have a natural desire to explore outside the realm of their homes.

This motivation is something that is demonstrated right here at F&M in the large population of international students it inhabits, students who should be an inspiration to all prospective world-travelers. With credit to first year students Jhanvi Shah, from Bombay, India, and Meichen Liu, from Beijing, China, I was able to investigate the reality of studying internationally at F&M.

The first thing that I questioned Shah and Lui about was something that is asked of any student regardless of background: What was your motivation in coming to F&M? When asked about this, both Liu and Shah noted that they value the diversity of perspectives at F&M, and experiencing new things.

Shah also mentioned the “breadth of the curriculum and the flexibility in exploring various interests”, something that F&M prides itself on as a liberal arts institution.

Both students recalled the mixed reactions of their family and friends in their decision to come here. While Lui’s parents and friends were supportive of her decision, Shah said, “My parents were against it at first based on the stereotypical notion of college in the US.

They were worried about the freedom and the parties.” Not everyone was entirely accepting of her decision. Shah said that some people thought that it was pointless since she was a girl and she is expected to come back and get married anyway. Meanwhile, some of Lui’s teachers in high school were skeptical of her choice.

Despite all of this, once they got here, Shah and Lui got to begin the life-altering experiences they envisioned.

This involved the well-known phenomenon of culture shock. For Lui, this was manifested many things including the variation in food from China to here. “The food in my hometown is more diverse and suitable to my tastes”, said Lui. Shah’s version was less tangible. “There are differences in how people treat each other here compared to India.

In India, people are a lot more generous, but here, professors are a lot more open and welcoming. At F&M, it’s normal to have lunch with a professor or to talk to them about anything.”

The glorification of travelling is a very common phenomenon, especially in millennials, a generation known for having such worldly aspirations.

The international students at F&M seem to attest to the value of taking risks in order to have life-changing experiences.

This idea, the idea that the possibility of exploration supersedes the chance of failure, is really what F&M is all about: experimenting with interests and challenges in order to cultivate a well-rounded, diversified personal identity that will allow you to take on the next opportunity with an equally inspired mindset.

Hannah LaChance is a contributing writer. Her email is hlachanc@fandm.edu.

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