International Students Speaking up

Felicitas Hackmann

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The Fall quarter has begun at CSUEB and students are settling into their new courses, getting used to class after the summer break.
Some of us are, anyway. Others are new here and find the daily life in Hayward anything but normal.
International students see with different eyes as their understanding increases but many things still surprise them, and it is more than the weather.
About 1,200 CSUEB students are foreigners, mostly from China and India, which brings the number of international students to 11 percent.
“The campus is smaller than I thought,” said Xuan Min, an international student from Bejing, who picked CSUEB because it cooperates with her university at home.
Both Julia Müller, a German student, and her boyfriend, came here for the beautiful University.
Living on a big hill, they hoped for an inexpensive way to get around. After moving to the campus, the pair was faced with poor public transportation, so they bought a car.
“We didn’t want to buy a car,” said Müller, “but after carrying our groceries from down Harder Street all the way up here, we changed our minds immediately.”
Finding a cheap car, getting insurance without a California driver’s license and figuring out how to afford routine maintenance wasn’t easy. However, the couple definitely thinks it is necessary not only for shopping but to explore the Bay Area as well.
“There’s always something going on on campus”, Michi Krei says, “but I really miss partying as I did in Germany.”
He and his friends were looking forward to the freshman party two weeks ago but forgot that freshmen in the United States are not of legal drinking age.
Consequently, there was not a single beer at the party. In Germany, where the drinking age for beer and wine is 16, things are different.
While almost all European students like the quality and the different kinds of food on campus, most of the Asian exchange students do not like it as much and would appreciate a larger variety of choices to pick from.
Most international students agreed that the I-House is absolutely overpriced, though it is a nice place to live and get to know new people.
“Though these students are enrolled now, some of the visiting students find the registration and enrollment process very complicated,” said Kelly Pan, the Program Coordinator of the American Language Program at CSUEB.
Since International students enroll after local students, many courses are packed. Until they know they are enrolled in a class for sure, the students don’t buy books.
“That is why right now,” Yvonne Wildschütz says, “we have to read all chapters that have been read in the past weeks in class.”
Foreign students were also surprised by the homework, which is way more than in their home country because it is customary to spend more time in class.
Though they are at an American school, international students mostly spend their free time with other foreigners.
Students from different countries not only live together at the I-House but also spend their weekends together on outings organized by the American Language Program (ALP) to get familiar with the Bay Area.
Next weekend, the group will go to Half Moon Bay to see and celebrate the Pumpkin Festival.
All students agree that the teachers and classmates at CSUEB are always very nice and helpful.
With a lot of classes requiring teamwork for group projects, many international students must work closely with American students.
The gap is being bridged by American students’, with their willingness to work alongside international students. Also adding to their success is the international students’ enthusiasm to immerse themselves in the new culture.