International students reflect on past year, prepare for in-person upcoming year


Photo Courtesy of Sarah Kishta

Sarah Kishta looks over lecture slides at 2:15 a.m. from her home in Zagazig, Egypt. International students at the University reflect on their time doing school abroad.

By Mona Alrazzaq, Assistant News Editor

International students who stayed abroad during the pandemic faced unique challenges this year, while attempting to complete their online learning from across the world.
According to the University’s most recent numbers, 839 fewer international students are enrolled at the University this spring, compared to last spring.
For those who did decide to enroll at the University, the obstacles they were faced with while adjusting to remote learning from home were plentiful. The adjustments ranged from lack of motivation to time difference challenges.
Jiwon Lee, sophomore in Engineering, resides in Daegu, South Korea. This past year, she had classes at 4 a.m. Korean Standard Time.
“The biggest challenge I faced was making the deadlines because of the time difference, but I was able to overcome that by asking for extensions,” Lee said.
Jana Barghouthi, freshman in LAS, currently lives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Despite the difficulties they had to deal with, Lee and Barghouthi both agreed that a major benefit of staying at home this past year was being able to spend more time with their families.
“This past year gave me more time with my family which I will forever appreciate, ” Barghouthi said. “Moving all the way across the world is not an easy task, so the past year has allowed me to really spend time with them before moving the coming fall.”
As the year wraps up and vaccines become more widely available in the United States, many international students are planning to experience campus life next school year.
“My motivation to study dwindled week by week, but thankfully I realized that I’ll soon be on campus and I just had to push through and finish the semester strong,” Barghouthi said.
Although it saddens Barghouthi to think that she lost her college experience the entire first year, she expressed her excitement to finally be surrounded by other students, attend classes in person and hang out with people who she has spoken to online.
While some international students are excited to live on campus next semester, other international students are nervous about the environment they will be returning to.
“I’m planning to return in person next semester because I’m a resident adviser and I’m feeling a bit afraid of all the Asian hate that is going on in the U.S.,” Lee said.
However, Lee hopes to gain a more “quality education,” as she believes that online learning has limitations that in-person classes do not have. Barghouthni expressed a similar sentiment.
“I am thrilled to be on campus next year,” Barghouthi said. “I believe that I am completely ready to do my best, enroll in more classes, form friendships and be an actual college student for my sophomore year. ”

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