8 Nails On A Chalkboard For Foreign Students In The U.S.

8 Nails On A Chalkboard For Foreign Students In The U.S.

We've heard it all before...
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1. “Oh you’re from London? My friend is from Liverpool! Maybe you know him: John Smith? Brown hair? Kinda tall?”

Just because your friend lives in the same country I am from, it doesn’t mean I automatically know him. To put it into perspective, London to Liverpool is a four-hour drive without traffic. That’s the same amount of time it takes to get to Vegas from Los Angeles - and you even cross state lines!

2. “Whereabouts in London? Oh yeah, totally heard of Shepherd’s Bush…near Buckingham Palace, right?”

When they ask you exactly where you’re from, and then pretend they know where that is. Having only been to New York City once, I would never ask a New Yorker where in New York they lived, and whether they can see the Statue of Liberty from their bedroom window - although admittedly, that would be very cool.

3. “Oh, your favorite TV show is American? How come? Aren’t you from England?”

First of all, I’d be surprised if aliens hadn’t spent the last 20 years watching Friends, and secondly, I am from England- not from under a rock. We get TV there too, people!

4.“Do we have accents to you?”

Let me ask you one thing: if you moved to China for a couple of years, would Chinese magically start sounding not-Chinese? Way to go, making me feel like a minority!

5. “So wait, if you’re from England, why are you here?”

I’m sitting in class and trying to focus on the education my parents are paying for, not standing in immigration in the airport. As a foreign student, having this question fired at you is frustrating. I’m not here just biding my time. I’m here to learn- just like you.

6. “You have an accent!”

I’m not even going to grace this with an explanation.

7. “You can’t have an opinion on American politics because you’re not from here.”

As a Political Science major, this was one of the most ridiculous statements I have heard since moving to America - and it was spoken by an Arts major. As a foreigner, one may have even more perspective on their host country’s political system. It is easier to view it from the outside, with some objectivity and outside experience.

8. “Go back to where you came from!”

This one mainly applies to Caucasian foreign students. If you were to yell that at a student of color, you wouldn’t get the same, relaxed reaction. It’s still rude, even if I am white.

Cover Image Credit: Kat Jayne

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I'm That Girl With A Deep Voice, But I'm Not Some Freak Of Nature

I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man.

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My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I joke that rather than getting higher, my voice got lower throughout puberty.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when my family members say "Hi Todd" when they pick up the phone when I call. Todd is my brother. I am a girl.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when I have been asked by other females if they're "in the right bathroom" when I tell them "I'm not in line" or "someone's in here" when there's a knock on the stall.

Keep in mind that in most female bathrooms, there are no urinals present and there is a sign outside the door that says "WOMEN." Quite obviously, they're in the correct bathroom, just thrown off by the octave of my voice.

For the girl who asked me if she was in the right bathroom because she was "caught off guard and thought I was a boy," I'm just wondering...

What part about my long hair, mascara, shorts not down to my knees, presence (small presence, but a presence none the less) of boobs, and just my overall demeanor was not enough validation that you are, in fact, in the correct restroom?

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man. Or, when someone calls me over to talk to their friends so they can see how "offsetting" my voice sounds to them.

My favorite story is when I was in a store, and I asked one of the women there a question about a product.

This woman had the audacity to ask me when I "went through my transformation."

She was suggesting that I was a transgender girl because of the sound of my voice. Please recognize that I respect and wholeheartedly accept the trans- population. Please also recognize that I was born a girl, still am a girl, always will be a girl, and asking someone if they are a different gender than they appear to be is not the best way to make a sale.

Frustrated, I told her that she should find a better plastic surgeon and walked out.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be.

And, to make matters worse, I am not your typical "girly-girl."

I die for the New York Rangers, have maybe two dresses in my closet but three shelves full of hand-me-down sweatshirts from my brother and Adidas pants. I do not own a "blouse" nor do I plan on owning one except maybe for business-casual occasions.

Naturally, when a deep voice is paired with a sports-oriented, athletic short-loving, sarcastic girl who couldn't tell you the difference between a stiletto and an average high-heel, I GUESS things can seem "off." However, regardless of the difference you see/hear, no one has the right to make someone feel bad about themselves.

What I always struggled with the most is how (most, moral, common-sense) people will never tell someone they don't know, who may be overweight, that "they're fat" or that they don't like the shirt that they're wearing. Yet, because my voice is not something physically seen, it has become fair game for strangers and acquaintances alike to judge and make comments about.

I used to break down into hysterics when I heard a comment about my voice, whether I was six years old or seventeen years old.

There are times that I still do because I am so fed up and just completely bamboozled by the fact that at the age of twenty, there are still people who just have a blatant disregard for others' feelings and a lack of understanding of what is okay to say and what is not okay to say.

But, just like I ask those people not to judge me, I suppose I can't judge them on their lack of common sense and respect for others.

I'd be lying if I said that the hundreds of thousands of comments I've heard and received targeted at my voice growing up did not play a role in my life. I used to want to be a sports broadcaster. I no longer want to be heard on the radio or seen on TV; snarky comments about my voice being one of the reasons why (among others, like a change of interest and just overall life experiences).

I'd be lying if I said that my struggle with public speaking didn't partially stem from negative feedback about my voice.

I'd be lying if I said that there weren't days I tried to talk as little as possible because I didn't want to be judged and that I am sometimes hesitant to introduce myself to new people because I'm scared my voice will scare them away.

I would also be lying if I said that my voice didn't make me who I am.

I joke constantly about it now, because half the shit that comes out of my mouth mixed with my actions, interests, beliefs, etc., would sound absolutely WHACK if I had a high-pitched "girly" voice.

My voice matches my personality perfectly, and the criticism I have and continue to receive for my "manly" sounding voice has helped shaped me into who I am today. I have learned to love my voice when people have relentlessly tried to make me hate it. I have learned to take the frustration I felt towards my voice and turn it into sympathy for those who have something going on in their life, and therefore feel compelled to make a comment about me, a stranger's voice, to make themselves feel better.

I've learned that to laugh at yourself is to love yourself.

And, I say this not for sympathy. Not for someone to say, "Wait, Syd, I love your voice!"

I say this because I want it to be a reminder for people to watch what they say, and use that noggin before you speak. I say this because I also want to be the voice (haha, get it, 'voice') for those who feel like they've lost theirs.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

So no, I would not be a good alto in a choir because I think I'm tone deaf. And, when you call MY phone number, it is very unlikely that it is my brother or dad answering. Just say hello, because 99.9% of the time, if it's ME you're calling, it's ME that's answering.

Dr. Suess said, "A person's a person no matter how small."

Now I'm saying, "A girl is a girl no matter her octave."

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To The Teacher Who Broke My Spirit

Education should not be like this.

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No one should have to sit in a classroom and feel absolutely horrible about themselves. No one should have extreme dread going to office hours. Education should not be like this.

I have always been an A+ student my entire life. Even throughout college, I have remained a diligent and hard-working student. I've loved being involved and engaged in all of my classes. Up until you, I've enjoyed going to class and learning.

You have broken my spirit.

When I walk into your class, I feel completely incompetent. I doubt myself and intelligence every single day. I feel like no matter how much effort I put in, I get nothing out. I could study and do homework for hours on end, yet I still only get below average grades. Every time I have to email you or attend office hours, I have extreme anxiety. Anything that involves you or your class makes me cringe. I know may this sounds super dramatic, but we've all been there at one point or another—and it flat out sucks.

Although you have made my life an absolute living hell, there's one silver lining to having to endure your class. You've made me appreciate all of the incredible professors I've had in the past. You've taught me what a real teacher is, and that is not you.

A real teacher is someone who genuinely wants his/her students to succeed, in both academics and life. They are not the easiest professors in the world, but they are kind and approachable. That is all I ask. I am not looking for an "easy A" from you or your class. I am looking for a teacher that has compassion for not only the topic but for the students too. You give the teachers who genuinely do amazing work a bad rep.

At the end of the day, you have taught me a life lesson...that not all people want me to succeed. In life, there will be people and things that stand in my way of achieving my goals. You have broken my spirit, but only temporarily. If anything, you have taught me to rise above the criticism and the negativity. I am not defined by the grade you give me or the way you treat me. I refuse to sink to your level.

You may have broken my spirit for now, but you will not keep me down for long. As Winston Churchill said,

"Kites fly highest against the wind—not with it."

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