America is the land of the free, the land where your dreams can become a reality and a place where nothing is impossible. My grandmother called it “Aljan’nan Dunia,” which translates to “the paradise on earth.” One can see why it is the dream of international students to leave their country and embark on a journey to America.
I am from Nigeria, and coming to study at Northwestern State University has been a dream come true.
My uncle, Bukar Ibn-Mohammed, fulfilled a promise that he made to me when I was only nine years old. He said all I had to do was succeed in school and he would bring me to NSU. This meant I could go to the very place that I always watched on TV and possibly make something of myself. More importantly, I could remove my mother from poverty and give her the life she deserves.
Despite all the adjustment struggles I have had, my uncle has been there for me every step of the way. The opportunity to fulfill my potential has never been closer.
Like anything else, however, the transition has its ups and downs. Being here has presented endless opportunities for international students to succeed and begin a new life, but we have to go through some stressful experiences.
A lot of us go through a period of culture shock which is mostly within our first year of being here in America. Culture shock can include anxiety when meeting new people and their different and unusual social behaviors. For almost every international student, language barriers are the
number one issue. A student’s level of comfort with the culture of their new home can determine their learning experience. It can be an emotional rollercoaster being so far away from family and friends.
Saily Romero, a new international student from Colombia, dreamed of coming to America, improving herself and living her dream. She said she is the happiest girl in the world because her dream came true. Being in here at NSU is changing her entire life. However, she struggles with the language barrier.
“When I came here, I thought it would be easy,” Romero said. “[I thought] I would have a lot of friends but that’s not true. It is challenge but it is not impossible.”
Hassik Vasquez Narvaez is also an international student from Colombia. He has been here for five years.
“The hardest part for me is English, at least for the first year,” he said. “But it got better.”
Narvaez didn’t even own a bike when he got here, so he had to walk to school. He had three goals when he got here: to get a “valuable degree,” to learn English and to get to know a lot of people, which would be beneficial to his musical career. He is a senior and he is one of the best students in the School of Business as well as the music departments.
These are the qualities that international students possess: determination, curiosity, a craving to grow and most importantly, hard work. Some of us aren’t just here for ourselves or our dreams. Some of us are here to provide a better future for our families, our communities and, for those of us who dream bigger, our country.
President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing that is worth having comes easy.” For us international students, the road to success may not be easy. There may be some bumps in the road, but no matter what adversities come our way, we will keep going with the memory of our homes forever with us.
Photo by Valentina Perez Espinosa.