International students share their experiences in the USA//

International students share their experiences in the USA//Carolina Estrada

By Carolina Estrada, Staff Writer
International Education Week, which ran from Monday, November 16 to Friday, November 20, was formed in a joint initiative between the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education. International Education Week was created to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange/study abroad worldwide. On November 16, the International Student Association club at Bergen started off International Education Week by hosting a Student Panel, which focused on the transition to American culture and education system.

The panel featured five international students and one American student who studied abroad in Spain. The students, all who attend Bergen, consisted of Yasmine from Tunisia, Sibora from Albania, Hatira from Turkey, Blyss who is from the U.S. but studied abroad in Spring 2015 in Spain, Mantana from Thailand, and Lina from Colombia.

Transportation in the U.S. was one of the biggest difficulties that all of the student panelists faced when coming to the U.S. “The first and last time I took the bus, I went to Jersey City, when I thought I was coming here. The transportation here is so confusing,” Yasmine said. Agreeing with her, Sibora said, “I’ve gotten lost so many times.” All students including Blyss, thought the transportation in the U.S was very unclear and indirect. “The transportation in Spain is so much better than here. It’s a mess here.”

All international students agreed the college atmosphere was much more comfortable than in their home countries. “Classes are small here and we’re given opportunities to be more active in class and given more attention.” In comparison to her home country of Albania, where classes typically have on average 200 students, and in Thailand, which can also have about 100 or more students.

In other countries there is often a disconnection between the students and the professors. The relationship between the students and professors are often minimal or non existent, as students sit in silence as a professor lectures and having very large class sizes. That change of pace here in Bergen is something they all enjoyed.

“What I like here is the professors helpfulness, here you can talk to the professor, you can explain your problem, you can email him. They’re more helpful,” Yasmine said. Sibora and Mantana also agreed saying they liked the relationship between professors and students and the small class sizes.

Another benefit the panelists thought the American educational system had over other countries was that you didn’t have to choose your career path right away, and could take many different classes before deciding what you like and want to do. Though Blyss did like the Spanish system where one can decide what they want to do right away and can go to vocational school then continue later on. With so many options to choose from, she thought that the American system could make you more confused or uncertain of your choice.

From relationships with professors, class flexibility, social activities and employment opportunities at Bergen, all the international students prefered the U.S. system of education. Integrating often times wasn’t too hard for most of them, with Bergen having such a diverse student body, feeling of isolation is impossible. Many international students find themselves meeting people from their own nations.

“I’ve met so many Albanian students that sometimes I feel like I’m still in my country.”