International and U.S. students find common ground


Abduraafi Andrian/SCC

Students at SCC from all over the world.

Adrea Rustandie, Reporter

In 2015 roughly 975,000 international students were studying in America according to the Institute of International Education.

These students face additional cultural challenges such as learning a second language and experiencing different flavors of social life that they may find very exciting or even shocking.

Petunia Masango, a 20-year-old from South Africa is currently pursuing her culinary art education at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona, said that her first classroom experience in America was priceless and overwhelming.

“In my country, people always greet classmates who sit at the next table. In the U.S. they don’t talk to each other,” Masango said. “But when the class starts, everyone keeps showing their opinions in a discussion and even casually talks to his or her instructor. I mean, what went wrong?”

In South Africa, she did not speak up during class. She says in the U.S .classroom, she finds it difficult getting used to expressing her opinion during the class.

Despite this difference, Masango finds that she is more comfortable asking the professor to clarify content that she might feel confused about outside of class.

“I made an appointment to see my instructor after class, and they helped me in a way that I needed,” Masango said. “I was even surprised that the writing center could help a lot with my writing issues. It’s like the best package of education.”

Abduraafi Andrian/SCC
Students in the computer lab at SCC.

Gia Keith, a Scottsdale Community College from the U.S. discussed her feelings about what happens inside the classroom. Keith, a 20-year-old who is originally from New York says that generally college students in America have to work after class, and that limits their involvement in social life on campus—even though she still wants to be available to open the door for possible friendships.

“I do have a few international student friends, and I see that they always have the same issues at the beginning, but dang, they always turn out great,” Keith said.

According to a recent report from U.S, News and World Report, tuition is only one factor in the mounting financial challenges for college students. In California for example, where tuition is even waived for community college students that have financial need, 43 percent of the cost of attending a community college lies in student housing or rent. 

While adapting to new cultural norms is a consistent issue for the majority of international students—international students, as well as U.S. students, can learn to improve their efforts.

All college and university students must face the biggest challenge of learning how to balance their time management skills, work, finances and a social life.