Being an international student is not easy. I, myself, am an international student from Burma. Looking back, I would consider filling out the application to be the most stress-free part of the admissions process. Being an international student means that I have to adhere to a whole different set of rules and regulations.
As an international student, one is not allowed to work off-campus and is ineligible for federal loans and scholarships. These restrictions limit the wide pool of opportunities that the student can grasp.
UMW is a school with a small population of international students: 39, to be exact. Although the number is inarguably small, it is enough to sustain a community of students that support and care for one another in this foreign academic environment.
UMW goes to various lengths to maintain this sense of community and friendship.
One of the steps that UMW has taken is to establish the International Living Committee at Framar House, as well as designate a residence hall that specifically accommodates a number of Korean and Afghan students, the Mary Ball Hall. UMW also supports events that promote international cultures such as the annual Korean Thanksgiving, and Bhangra Beat, an Indian dance competition that gives students a taste of Bollywood.
Furthermore, UMW’s international student advisor, Cheryl Mason, holds meetings with the students on a regular basis in order to keep track of their academic and social progress, ensuring that they are all-around satisfied with the UMW experience.
Ms. Mason eases their transition into the UMW community by advising them on classes that will be most helpful within their respective majors, by recommending them for on-campus jobs and by providing carpools to shops and local offices. For those who’ve left behind families, having a parental figure and friend ensures that they receive the attention and encouragement that they frequently need.
For international students, the academic curriculum seems even more rigorous due to the language barrier. However, places such as the Writing Center and Speaking Center have helped students improve their language and communication skills, thereby increasing their likelihood of achieving good grades and improving their GPAs.
Personally, UMW has shaped the way that I view the world in terms of people, their behaviors and the culture that is prevalent in the United States. As I continue to grow, it has allowed me to be more honest in the way I portray myself to the rest of society. In spite of limitations, the UMW community has shown me that even I can reach for the stars and not be afraid of failure.