Rigors of being a (real) international student, continued

Comments on conditions for success as a foreigner


Technically, I’m an international student. However, I’m only about eighty minutes drive from Niagara Falls and grew up speaking English, so I don’t really count, according to my classmates – over 75 per cent of which are truly international. Regardless, I’m not the only blogger in my class, and I thought I’d comment on some “necessary” conditions for being a successful international graduate student in economics as posited by a friend before I get back to work.

1. “English. If you are just good at English, then it is not enough.”
2. “Math. Fortunately, this can still work as your forte[].”
3. “Aggressiveness.

It’s the last one that’s pretty interesting. And it’s somewhat true. I’ve always been quiet in lecture, but I usually tried to answer the rhetorical questions back home. And there was rarely a dead silence following a question from the prof. Here that’s more the norm. (I can no longer answer, because I’m very occupied keeping my head above water.)

Makes me curious to sit in an truly foreign classroom. Maybe my math skills would improve. At least I’m international enough to complain about the immigration hassles.

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Rigors of being a (real) international student, continued

  1. Andrew, could you do me a favour? Could you forward my next comment to your friend? I spent the last half hour trying to figure out how to leave it and when I thought I’d figured my way to “submit comment”, a box keeps popping up giving me Korean instructions that I’m unable to comply with… Thanks. Good post, by the way.


  2. [The comment below refer to the post at http://blog.naver.com/freetom/110035606145%5D

    Good point! As a Brazilian studying in Canada I really get what you’re saying. And then I realize that there are degrees and degrees of foreigness.

    I found your post through Andrew Davis’ blog ( http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2008/09/25/rigors-of-being-a-real-international-student-continued/#comment-5983 ), where he talks about being an international student as a Canadian in the USA, and how sometimes that does seem to really count. I pat myself on the back and think: “yep. As a Brazilian in Canada on a student visa, I face hardships you know nothing about.”

    So I go check the post he recommended — your post. I spend 10 minutes or so trying to figure out how to leave a comment, since my operational system cannot handle the Korean characters — not that *I* could handle them if it did.

    And that’s where I realize: oh, gosh. Brazil is in the same continent as Canada. We use the same alphabet. Some Latin roots here and there. Western culture and all.

    So easy to take all of this for granted. So easy to get all self-absorbed in the hardships *I* face as an international student.

    And then I read a post like this and self-pity becomes self-reproach. You of course can handle my alphabet and my operational system. Not that anyone thinks that *that* is a big deal…

    There really are hardships I know nothing about — and take for granted everyday.

    Thanks for such a nice post. Very good English, by the way! Your writing is very impressive! :)

  3. Ester;

    I’ve given him the link, so he ought to see all the discussion here. Thanks for the reply.

  4. I got the same “Canada doesn’t count as international” at least once here in Berkeley, although I’m French Canadian with a relatively strong accent in English. However I had to take a couple physics courses in English at U. of Ottawa, so my “academic immersion” mostly happened back then: when one particular professor was difficult to understand due to an accent of his own, I could still follow most of the course thanks to the universal language that is math!

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