“International Students Are So Shy” And The Story About Racism Behind That Preconception (Part 2)

“International Students Are So Shy” And The Story About Racism Behind That Preconception (Part 2)

I'm not shy, but I sometimes do feel that I don't belong here.

Full of thoughts, I madly came to my friend's apartment to tell her my story. She is from Columbia, and we became best friends as our experiences and feelings are the same while being an international student. And, out of my expectation, she told me another story.

Last semester, she took a class that included both American students and international students. It was called the "Cultural Exchange." The intention of that class was for students to share their culture and learn about new cultures around the world. One day, there was a topic question: "Why are international students so shy?". Well, American students confidently did a great job pointing out many points: because they are afraid of their pronunciation because their cultures are different,… My friend was sitting there, all alone, and didn't know what to say. It was an awkward experience for her.

We sat there for more than 2 hours discussing the tough time we had. Yes, our culture is different, we don't live individually, instead, we all live together and I'm proud of it. But we still chose to study in another country because we want to have a better future. As a result, we became an international students. But at some points, we respect your culture and we admire it, why can't you do the same thing? I enjoy my time at JMU, I love the experiences that I'm having, but sometimes, I feel lost and so lonely.

In my opinion and as I asked other international friends, the main reason is that: We don't feel like we belong here. Hello there! We are not shy, and that we are going to say whatever we want to. But you know what, it is tough for us to be here, to be lonely all the time, to study far apart from our family using another language, and to be an international student. I feel that not many of you are willing to talk with us because you always think that we are shy and that our cultures are so far different. We deeply understand that it might be hard at first, but we also try our best to make new friends. But sometimes, we don't feel the same attitude from you guys. I tried to talk to some American friends in my class as I was always the one to start the conversation. However, our discussion finished after they realize that I'm not from America. How funny is that?

I know that some of you might not like this. But if you don't try, how can you tell? Some international students are extremely friendly and funny, and we all can be good friends. Just don't judge us by our appearance or our background, look at us as who we indeed are, and we are always willing to do the same! If we somehow can manage that, then all of us will achieve freedom. Freedom for our soul.

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