March 20, 2017 | Isabel Phillips
When people think about going away for college, they think they’ll be a few hours away from home. For me that was not necessarily the case. I had to take into consideration that the college I attended was going to be on the opposite side of the world from my parents.
I am a 20-year-old proud Venezuelan who has lived in six different countries (Venezuela, Nigeria, Egypt, USA, Italy, and United Arab Emirates) and traveled to many more throughout my life. The opportunity to live in and experience these different countries, along with their cultures and customs, has shaped me into who I am today. Learning to adapt is something that I’ve become very much accustomed to doing. If there is one thing that I could count on when I was growing up, it was that change was inevitable and that it was always around the corner.
I applied to seven different colleges and was accepted to six. All the schools were in different states--it was just a matter of finding the right one for me. After touring the campus for five of them, I concluded that Sam Houston State University was the right choice for me. I liked how the campus was the perfect size, and every time I visited, everyone was so nice.
In August of 2014, I moved to Huntsville, Texas to start my college career. It was nerve-racking knowing that I would be 16 hours away by flight from my parents if I ever did need anything. My brother was attending college in Washington state, so even he would take some time to arrive if I needed something.
Once I got the hang of things, I started to learn something new every day. For starters, I had never heard country music until I came to Texas. I had never heard the saying “y’all.” Whataburger has become a routine on the nights that we go out. Texans are obsessed with Texas. Slowly but surely, Huntsville has become a part of my life.
Some helpful tips I can give future Bearkat International Students:
- Get involved! College is what you make of it, so if you are part of different organizations it will keep you active and you will be able to network.
- Facetime is your best friend. Facetime your parents whenever you can. They are worried about you, and being so far from home, this is a simple way to reassure them that you are OK.
- Get a job on campus! Although you may have to jump through hoops with the amount of paperwork you have to fill out, it will all be worth it in the end. I surely love my job!
- Tip! Tipping is not a common practice throughout the rest of the world. Customers are supposed to tip 15-20% of their bill.
- Get to know your International Student Office- they will be there to help you whenever you need them.
Trying to explain your lifestyle to someone who has lived in one place his/her whole life is difficult. You have to keep in mind that people are not arrogant, they are just afraid of what they don’t understand. Explain to them how you grew up, how your life was at home, and share things about you that can open up conversation. I’ve come to realize that this is a great learning opportunity, and it exposes them (and you!) to different cultures.
Enjoy college as much as you can and good luck out there future Bearkats!