A day in the life: studying overseas

Hafsa Farah
Staff Writer

InternationalStudentArt

Jihyo Park stared intently at the row of bowling pins before letting the heavy ball fly. “Yes!” she shouted triumphantly when all the pins tumbled down in a strike. She did a little victory jig as her friends cheered her on.

Junior chemistry major Park is an international student from South Korea and she loves to go bowling when she gets some free time. Growing up, Park’s biggest dream was to become an oriental herb doctor, and she believes she will achieve that dream through her experience at Cameron.

“I think choosing Cameron University was one of the best decisions I ever made,” she said. “I like the atmosphere on campus. Professors, staff and students are very friendly.

“I have gained lots from this experience. People often say that you will get a broadened view of the world, if you study abroad. It is definitely true. I take advantage of being an international student in many ways. In my speech class I introduced Korean drinking culture, a topic which most of my audience wasn’t familiar with.”

Despite the joy she experiences as an international student, she still faces some obstacles.

“I struggled at first, and I am still struggling at adapting to new things, such as a new  language, a new school life, and a new culture,” Park said. “Luckily, I live with my younger brother, who is also attending CU, so I have at least one family member with me. We video chat at least once a week with our parents.”

InternationalStudentArt2Junior computer science major Akinola Akinlawon sat at the piano bench, removed his red headphones, closed his eyes and began playing. As his fingers danced across the black and white keys of the piano, all of the tension created by his incredibly busy day began to disappear.

“I am president of the Nigerian Student Association, the president of Mathcom, a member of the Association of IT Professionals, a member of the Rotaract Club, and a member of the Honor Student Society. This is my busiest semester so far, but I enjoy being able to juggle so many diverse activities.”

Though he may be overwhelmed from time to time, Akinlawon continues to succeed despite his rigorous schedule.

“Being involved in campus activities is to me a platform for development,” he said. “I was in homecoming court this year and one of the questions they asked me was, ‘What has been your greatest achievement since coming to Cameron?’”

“I replied that it was the ability to handle two organizations as dynamic as Mathcom and the Nigerian Student Association and still make good grades.”

Akinlawon discussed some of the challenges of being an international student.

“First off is funding. It is extremely expensive to travel to America to study. Out of every ten Nigerian students, only 2 make it for the deadline for fees to be paid. The reason Nigerian students come to Cameron is because most other institutions don’t offer scholarships to international students. The tuition waiver is a very attractive thing that brings students here.”

Being an international student still has its perks in his eyes.

“An advantage to being an international student is the pride that comes with it,” he said.

“First off, because we are always after scholarships that are not very available for us, most international students are forced to do well in school. So you find very many Nigerians pushing themselves overtime to make sure that they can make things happen and make sure that their parents aren’t paying out-of-state tuition.

“The fact that there are so few scholarships for Nigerian students bothered me enough to make me do something about it. Thanks to me, the Nigerian Student Association started a scholarship to fill that need.  I managed to get myself some sponsors, and we have obtained $2,000. And that will launch very soon.”

After a couple years as an international student, Akinlawon has learned that his diversity may be his greatest asset to his education.

“Another great advantage of being an international student is that I have had the privilege to explore things from two different angles,” he said. “[I get to] explore it from the American angle that I’m seeing now and am learning, and explore it from the Nigerian root that I’m from.

“I have absorbed very many opinions and cultures and it just made for a really delicious mix of information that is available to anybody who would ask it of me. And it just gives me that upper hand to see things from different angles.”

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