What it’s like to be an international student


International student and business major Christina Abraham holds up a globe and points to India, where she’s from, during an international student meetup at American River College on Jan. 31, 2019. (Photo by Ashley Hayes-Stone)

Emily Mello

Many people say they had the “time of their lives” while in college. But is it really true that time spent in college is that great?  

As an international student, I think this statement is true for people like me who come from another country because we’ve experienced different cultures and teaching styles.

One of the things that I appreciate about American River College is the classes offered to international students. In the beginning it was very hard for me to adapt to the American academic world because in my home country, Brazil, the system to get in to a university or college is very different.

For example, in Brazil there is a national exam called ENEM, an acronym that translates to National High School Exam, where students from all over the country have a chance for college admittance.

Since my first semester I have had a unique experience at ARC. The classes offered to international students are very different from the standards of an American college. For example, the English department here offers classes in different categories, including speaking, listening, writing and reading. This is very helpful for any foreign student born in a country where English it isn’t the first language.

These types of classes were the key for me to develop my writing skills in English because the professor who teaches English as a Second Language has a lot of experience with those who are challenged by the English language.

A friend of mine from India, Christina Abraham, is majoring in business at ARC. She shared some of her experiences with me.

“When I first came to American River College, I felt very comfortable and happy to see how people embraced the international (students) and the activities promoted too,” Abraham said.

She also added that she was grateful to have the support of the international department, since in the beginning she had to figure out a lot of things by herself.

“This support gain(ed) from the international department was essential for me, to know what I could and couldn’t do as foreign student in U.S. I’m grateful that ARC gives us the support,” Abraham said.

Even though Abraham was born in India, a country where English is one of the official languages, she thinks that support for international students is very important.

“I know how hard it is for some of the international students [when their] first language isn’t English, and this support offered from ARC is the key to their success here,” Abraham said.

Another thing that I like about ARC are the activities offered on campus. As an international student, it’s not always easy to be away from home and family, and the activities offered from international peer mentors makes us feel very welcomed and important to the community.

Last spring, the college’s Welcome Day was a very unique experience for me, because I could see how much the campus embraces all the new students. Where departments and groups in the campus get together to share with others who are they and what they do.

That’s what I really appreciate about American River College; everybody always tries to embrace every single group around campus and show their importance to the community as a whole.

I had an English grammar class, and my final exam would be a week after Mother’s Day, which is the second Sunday of May. I asked the professor if I could take the test ahead of time.

The professor immediately agreed to give me the test ahead of time, so I could see my family and friends back home and be there with my mom for Mother’s Day. I’m very grateful that she was able to see how important that was for me

My experience as an international student at ARC has been very good so far for me to grow in many aspects of my life and career. I’m very positive that all the experiences I have gained here will be very beneficial for my future.