By Melissa Gilbert |Staff Writer|
Each year, CSUSB welcomes approximately 800 international students from 40 different countries.
I am one of them and my experience as an international student at CSUSB has been memorable.
My plane was about to land. I grew increasingly nervous by the second. I couldn’t help but think, “What did I get myself into? Maybe I should have never signed up for a student exchange.”
Those thoughts were rushing through my mind at first but they are now irrelevant. Coming to CSUSB was the best thing I could have done for myself.
The reason why I chose to come to California was simple. I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada and I was looking for a way to escape the winter season.
There are different stages to a student exchange. The first couple of weeks is like a dream. Everything is amazing.
I was on cloud nine, the mountains behind school were perfect, my dorm was perfect and so were my classes.
Not too long after this phase, I started noticing all the little things that bothered me. All of a sudden, the food was not good anymore. My dorm was the worst place on earth and my classes were terrible.
The downfall to that phase is that at some point I felt like going home.
If you do a student exchange during your degree, it is likely that this will happen to you. To prevent the effects of culture shock, you must think positive at all times.
Positive thinking is what helped me get through the first couple weeks of my exchange program. If it was not for that, I would have packed my things and left.
Do not let little things bring you down otherwise you will hate your time abroad.
Once this passed, I fully enjoyed my time in California.
Wherever you go, there are always cultural differences. It does not matter how much you read about the country you are in or how much you think you already know. There will be many cultural traits that will surprise you.
Even if Canada is similar to the U.S. on many aspects, I was still surprised by the cultural differences between the two countries.
Before coming, I was told that Californians were cold. I quickly discovered that was far from true.
Most of the people I encountered were sociable, kind and genuinely friendly. Strangers say “Hi” to each other in the street, which is something very different from where I come from.
Of course, not everything was great. For me, the school food was far from amazing. It left me wondering why so many things are fried. All of the fried food gave me major vegetable cravings.
This student exchange program definitely opened my mind. It gave me a better understanding of the U.S.
I personally believe that every student should go abroad during the course of their bachelor degree.
Yes, it is scary to think you will be away from everything you know and love but it brings personal gratification.
Coming here made me remove my blinders and open up to others in the way that I would have never done had I stayed in Montreal.
Traveling and studying abroad is an enriching experience. Even if I had doubts at first, I have no regrets in coming to CSUSB.
I created memories with extraordinary people that I will cherish forever.