Internationals embrace new country; resist homesickness with familiar food, traditions

Swarming crowds of students disperse, drifting to their nests. Parking lots become vacant and the quad rests from scurrying feet.

It’s Friday afternoon, indicating time to travel home for the weekend — a luxury international students lack. They simply learn to cope.

Senior management major Will Wang is not troubled by the distance between him and his home in China.

“Actually, I don’t miss my parents very much. I can skype. I can call them. But my mom — she (misses) me,” he said.

First-year graduate business student Ling Ye “Freya” Fan watches Asian TV shows and shops online in her room. Photo by Stephen Webster

Wang went to the University of China and lived in a dorm for four years before coming to UMHB. He said he’s used to being away from home.  Occasionally, Wang misses his family and when he does it’s usually during the weekend or holidays.

“Sometimes I imagine … my community so I just feel the environment — the trees, the road, the beauty,” he said.

Among the things Wang longs for is the food distinct to his culture.

Freshman management major Cynthia Huang can attest to that.

“My country’s food has a different kind of style,” she said.

Huang is from Taiwan and continues to cook meals customary to her country. Another distinction that Huang noticed when she came to UMHB was Belton’s location.

“It’s countryside. Before, I lived in the city. It’s totally different,” she said.

Though Belton is not the community Huang is accustomed to, she and her parents view it as an opportunity to discover more in life.

“I can learn how to be independent here because I have to make everything for myself,” she said.

Sometimes Huang gets homesick but consoles herself by speaking words of encouragement.

“I will tell myself here is a new experience,” she said.

Huang wants to embrace the environment she has now by getting to know other students who do not speak her language.

“I try to tell myself don’t be shy and speak with American people and make friends,” she said.

Because English is not Huang’s first language, she said she is uncertain of how to make friends here. She is not sure about topics that amuse Americans when trying to spark up conversations.

Not all international students are seeking degrees at UMHB.

Gabriel Duran is from Columbia and taking English as a second language classes. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering but came to America specifically to learn English.

“This has been a great opportunity for me,” he said.

Duran arrived in January and will return home in December. He has a wife and an 8-year-old waiting for him in Columbia.

“It’s hard because it’s one year without them,” he said.

He communicates with his family through Skype and calls them daily.

Duran is uncertain about living in America permanently and pursuing a career here.

“I have a life there (Columbia). It’s very hard to change the life,” he said.

International students accept the path that leads them into a foreign country and even come to cherish the experiences here.

Huang said, “I have to treasure this life.”

Author: Chelesea Carter

Chelesea Carter is a senior English major minoring in writing at UMHB. She is an assistant page editor for The Bells newspaper. Though she came from the small town of Caldwell, Texas, she spent most of her teenage years in Aggieland. Chelesea enjoys baking delicious goodies, reading novels and discovering new things about others. Writing about social issues allows Chelesea to share her compassion for helping others. Her life-long goal is to improve the desolate state of the world.

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