Every year, the US is a popular destination among international students to study abroad for a short time – either a semester or a year. This year, Monmouth College is the host university for five exchange students from Japan, England, Italy, and France.
“I wanted to come here to improve my English, experience another culture, something different from home,” said Sofia Castagna from Italy.
While studying in another country, students can be surprised by cultural differences and have to adapt. “There are multiple culture shocks. One thing is the food, for certain – how salty it is, and how cheap it is for how much you can get sometimes”, said English Exchange Student Jess Elmes. “I was surprised by how people easily waste food”, said Hiroto Monden from Japan. Also from Japan, Kanon Kishimoto said, “Education and life here are more expensive. The amount of homework is also heavier so it could be difficult to adapt for a non-native speaker.”
Another thing international students can experience is homesickness. “I am very homesick […] not having this comfort food location is something I didn’t account for […] For the year-abroad students, we’re at a stage where we’re approaching halfway through, but there’s no option to go home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, etc. It definitely feels longer than what it is,” said Elmes.
Studying here, even for a few months, can be interesting and valuable for different reasons. “Since classes are small, it’s easier for me to be included,” said Kishimoto. “I have improved my English-speaking skills by having conversations with native speakers, and I also learned how to live with someone else”.
In addition, this time abroad is a way for students to set new goals that could help with their career. “By the end of the year, I want to improve my English and learn economics from the US perspective,” said Monden.
Finally, it can determine if one wants to have a deeper connection with the country later on. “I was going to move out here, but now I reconsidered it,” said Elmes. “I think it has been valuable for the people I have met, and I’ve taken away knowledge that I didn’t have before coming here […] but I’ve also learned that living in the US is probably not for me”.
Emilie Nguyen – Contributing Writer