Understated international student struggles

The flag building represents our international community at Tech. Every flag represents a student’s home country . It serves as a reminder of the diversity of cultures that make up Tech. // Photo by Garrett Shoemaker, Student Publications

Being an international student is difficult — yeah, that’s an understatement. Being an international student at Tech is a convoluted mess.

Wait, there is more. Being an international student who left home during a global pandemic to come to a school that doesn’t seem to care much about its international population is disheartening.

Normally when the population talks about the difficulties of an international student, we are looking at the social, cultural, and academic barriers but gloss over the administrative hassle.

Taking care of classes and mental health can drain a student, forget about also dealing with massive documents with convoluted explanations by yourself.

I have justified this lack of attention by lying to myself “Oh it’s fine, I knew being an international student would be difficult” or “Tech is probably too busy to deal with me.”

Ultimately, I attend this school. Tech advertises they are here to help a student in need. But how? By passing an international student department to department hoping they give up asking questions?

Last summer, to quarantine, I was told to arrive two weeks before the start of classes. I was ready, I was good to go, which is already a better situation than most international students at that time.

However, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into and seems like Tech did not know either.

There was no communication from OIE, even after writing/calling/pleading to them, no communication was given.

I was bouncing between OIE, Housing, and Bursar to just understand what I should do when I land, it had gotten so bad I was being told to email contacts who were the ones that transferred me over. I had delayed the flight a week.

Desperate, I had emailed any email I could get my hands on from Tech’s housing website just hoping for info.

Eventually after making it to campus, only then did OIE respond stating the procedure—with original dates. Even getting my vaccinations approved was a hassle.

I am a student from Canada, where we present documents in English and have all medical records localized yet Stamps had me running.

I had gotten all the vaccines required by international North American students, yet they would only accept my documentation when I had gone in person and explicitly explained the receipts. Otherwise, I was getting denial after denial for correct documentation … just in a format staff wasn’t used to.

In a similar situation, a freshman who is not able to make it onto campus due to visa troubles (due to COVID) is in a real bind with the removal of many online classes. They were forced to scour the bottom of the barrel just to be considered a full-time student. With the lack of online options, Tech perpetuates an inequitable environment expressing its lack of concern for international students.

I just find it quite ironic that a school that advertises promoting diversity, equity and inclusion lacks the resources to assist their population and go as far as to practice exclusionary practices.

Yes, increasing diversity within the Tech community is a great goal but one must also sustain the population. However, utilizing resources to bolster positive practices within the Tech community would produce a healthier environment for everyone.

Yes, definitely there are faculty and staff who have assisted me through my journey and I am grateful to them.

However, it should not be their responsibility to fix issues that are caused by OIE’s negligence or the politics surrounding the university.

Ultimately, I found my home on campus, which most international students do, but having to suffer to find it shouldn’t be necessary.