International students grapple with how to succeed

By Seattle Valdivia - Staff Reporter

Cultural shock, communication difficulties, home-sickness and financial issues are some of the various challenges international students face when they come to Highline.

International students are those who have the opportunity to undertake part or all of their studies in another country. Many are looking to succeed and have better opportunities in their future lives.

International Student Programs Manager Eva Engelhard, said that every international student is different, but usually what every student has to face when they come to the United States is cultural shock.

"[Cultural shock] is living in a country that doesn't have the same food or same transportation or same view as their home country," Engelhard said. "Or it could be the academic culture."

Culture shock covers academics, food, language and lifestyle changes; it's one of the biggest challenges that International students face when coming to the United States, Engelhard said.

Yuxin Li, an international student from China who goes by the name Rebecca, faced some cultural shocks when she arrived in the United States. Rebecca moved to California in 2014 and then to Seattle in 2017.

"When I just arrived here the language was my biggest challenge," Rebecca said. "An- other challenge was that you don't have any family or friends here in the United States so it makes you feel lonely."

In general, international students feel a lot of pressure when they arrive at a very different cultural place and tend to give up, Engelhard said.

"Most students, thankfully, that are here at Highline seem to find a way pass," she said. "But some students can't, for whatever reason. It's just too much and they realize that they need to go back to their familiarity and comfort of their home."

International Student Programs tries to do its best to help international students.

Rebecca is now part of the ISP team that tries to help students adjust.

"The ISP has really helped me a lot because this is a huge campus and sometimes you don't know where to go to find help," she said. "The ISP staff are really patient and helpful when they try to solve one's problems."

They work from beginning to an end with foreign students who want to apply at Highline, preparing their application documents, giving them information about how to get through the steps to get a visa, and then when they arrive, they offer an orientation, which includes academic and social components.

"We do everything we possibly can within the restriction of our jobs," Engelhard said. "[But at the time] we also try to encourage our students to become very independent."

Some international students come with a student visa for educational purposes and then after a short time leaving. Other students want to continue in their studies for a long time or sometimes change their plans to live here in the country.

That sometimes can create an immigration problem, as these students must deal with government offices to change their visa type to a work visa or something that allows them to work in the United States.

International students who don't know where to find help can contact International Stu- dent Programs for assistance.

Their offices are in Building 25 on the fifth floor.

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Graduating students are en- couraged to attend Grad Fair where they can accomplish many of the tasks needed to prepare for Commencement. At the Grad Fair, students can purchase commencement regalia, pick up cap & gown orders from online orders, join the Alumni Association, check in for Commencement, visit a cap decorating station, buy a class ring, get professional graduation photos taken, and celebrate with fellow graduating classmates. You can join the celebration at Building 8, 1st floor, Mt. Constance/Olympus on May 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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