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Experiences of an International College Student

During an interview with a good friend, I learn what life as a college student is like for a young man who moved from South Africa to the United States in order to attend the University of Oklahoma.

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Experiences of an International College Student
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Deciding where to receive a degree in higher education is one of the most important decisions in a young adult's life. As a senior in high school, we all asked ourselves these basic questions: What is my top choice school? Do I want to stay in-state or go out-of-state? Should I major in biology or English? While these are incredibly tough choices to make at the age of 17 or 18, I doubt that most of us have had to ask ourselves this particularly tough question: Should I leave my home country in order to attend college at a university on the other side of the world?

Richard Papenfus is a native-born South African student who asked himself this very question his senior year of high school. It had been Richard's dream for the longest time to go to college in the United States, and luckily, after some serious thought, his dream came true. The United States is a place where he knew he would be able to experience multiple cultures while becoming an independent person. This country also offers world-class colleges and resources which highly influenced Richard's decision to move to the United States.

At the University of Oklahoma, Richard is an accounting major who is a part of the rugby team and the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. Rugby has always been an important part of his life as he has played this sport for almost the entirety of his life. Other than being a great way to stay in shape, the rugby team has allowed Richard to meet new people who enjoy his same hobby. His reason for joining Alpha Sigma Phi was to also meet people, and from this experience, he has met people who will be his life-long friends. These clubs have also given Richard the opportunity to travel to different parts of the United States and experience cultures all throughout. Most importantly though, the rugby team and Alpha Sigma Phi have allowed Richard to branch out as a leader in life, which will significantly help him in his future as he prepares himself to become a business owner.

Unfortunately, it is not all fun and games when it comes to moving across the world. There are some challenges that come with being an international student. One major challenge that Richard faces happens to involve money. Because of laws that are constantly changing, it is important that he keeps his Visa valid by making aware of any changes he must adapt to. This can quickly become a tedious and repetitive problem.

Another downfall of being an international student is the realization that you must leave your loved ones behind. When it comes to his family, Richard does not get to see his relatives nearly as often as other college students are able to. In fact, he only gets to see them about two times during the school year, Winter Break and Spring Break. However, it was not difficult for Richard to adapt to living in a different country as his family since he is constantly busy with schoolwork and extracurricular activities. While they cannot see each other often, Richard and his family communicate via Facetime multiple times during the week to catch up on each others' lives.

While there are many differences between South Africa and the United States, Richard knows that his decision to attend school at the University of Oklahoma has changed his life for the better. Through his experiences and the people he has met, college has allowed Richard to mature as an adult and grow in his character. Being an international student has allowed him to experience the rich diversity found in the United States and around the University of Oklahoma, and Richard is incredibly happy with his decision to attend college in another country.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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