image: single sisters in university
International Student Edition
“How Have You Matured As An International Student?”
Sisters, meet Zhee, a fourth year international student in Canada. She majors in Administrative Studies. Our interview today looks at examples of some of the ways international students grow up thanks to their status.
Why did you decide to study abroad?
Having a western education and experience gives an edge in the job market, so I decided to go for it.
How would you describe your early period as an international student?
Oh my goodness, it was tough! I arrived in Canada during the winter season and was greatly amazed at the intense cold and amount of snow. So, that in of itself was hard to deal with. Then add homesickness and fear of being alone in this big country. The early days/months of adjustment were just scary and really emotional.
How were you able to overcome all these emotions?
Time is a healer! [smiles]. But seriously, I don’t think I have totally overcome these emotions; I still do feel a bit scared, homesick, and alone at times, but not as often as in the beginning. The Lord has been my Rock through and through, He definitely gets the credit for strengthening me.
How is your relationship with God now compared to when you were back home?
It has evolved a lot. I mean back home, though I devoted a great time in prayer and fasting, I wasn’t personally close to God because I always had my family around to turn to for help/advice. Here, having no one has increased my dependency upon the Father. The Lord has become my friend, help, financial advisor, mentor, everything. Our relationship has really improved.
Share with us some of the lessons you’ve learnt so far
- Be bold and courageous-nobody will do things for you so you have to woman up, for example when it comes to opening a bank account, filing paperwork, meeting assignment deadlines, doing the grocery, cleaning, etc.
- Intensify your prayer and Bible reading life-there are so many temptations in university that it’s easy for anyone to go astray and the Lord is only One that can help us stand firm and pure.
- Leave at peace-it’s easy to get overwhelmed and become worried due to school, money issues, and so on. Philippians 4: 6-7 (New Living Translation) says “don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” This is exactly what we need to do in order to enjoy peace and perform well.
What were some of the mistakes you made during your early period?
Worries, I used to worry so much at the beginning, especially when faced with difficult situations, I would just become so anxious. I have recently started applying with the above Philippians verse which is a blessing (when I apply it). Another mistake was studying in quantity rather than quality and consequently not being able to have appropriate rest. When the Holy Spirit convicted me of this, I later changed my habit. It was at that point my mind became refreshed and my grades ameliorated.
Do you think being an international student help one mature up?
It depends on how you take this journey. There are some international students that take their status as a ride or vacation. They neither work smart nor want to grow up and become adults in the real world. There are others, on the other hand, who cease their status as an opportunity to move forward in life, achieve decent goals, and gain experience.
What’s your overall opinion about being an international student?
It’s a great journey that carries its challenges along and I will never trade it. I’ve grown up in so many ways that I would never have if I had studied locally back home. Plus, you get to know learn about so many different cultures especially if you’re in a diverse institution like mine.
A message for international SSU?
In addition to the three points I mentioned in the question above on lessons learnt, I would encourage SSU to live in the fear of God not men. At times, you’ll be pressured or influenced to engage in activities that displease the Father just for the sake of ‘fitting in.’ However, always remember at the end of the day, you have to face God in prayer; do you want to do it shamefully or purely? Additionally, do your best in school and never let your studies get over your head. Always be content and thankful regardless of your possessions.