Tribulations of travel

The seating for the International Student panel speakers.

International students and students who plan on taking part in a study abroad program attended a panel discussion on Nov. 16 at the Shepherd Union.

The panel spoke about some of the challenges international students face and the goals Weber State University can aid students in achieving.

The panel discussed different options about how transportation could be improved at WSU. Improving campus transportation would make it easier for international students to get around without having to plan around a bus schedule.

Another challenge international students face is the difficult process of opening an account at a credit union in America without having a social security number. This challenge adds extra steps to get settled into living in the United States.

Coupled with the challenges of trying to find rides and getting access to credit cards, housing nearby or on campus can be difficult to find. Many of the housing suites want students to tour in person or use a credit system that is specific to the U.S., something many international students can’t do before arrival.

“The system of this country is great if you’re an American citizen, but not if you are not,” Elizabeth Hammond, assistant director of International Admission and Recruiting, said.

Another topic discussed was the challenges of traveling abroad for school. Some students are worried about how the culture they’re traveling to will receive them and how they are going to fit in.

“I’ve been here for about four years, so now I have friends, but when I first came, I had left all my friends back home,” William Frobe, an international WSU student, said. “So, be friends with them.”

The panel highlighted ways students could help international students feel more welcome by inviting them into conversations and giving them a space to talk about their own culture, experiences and life outside of the U.S.

Hammond moved from Ghana and mentioned that she had professors that would take time from the discussion to make sure she was able to have a say on the topic from her unique perspective being the only person not from the U.S.

“A good way you can do that is to go out of your way to ask your international students, ‘how is it like in your country?’” Hammond said.

Hammond said that current issues in the U.S. are most likely being talked about in other countries as well, so expanding beyond the worldview of the U.S. can be beneficial to learning new perspectives and information.

The panel also touched on the idea of globalizing campus and ways to go about it.

Casey Beckenthaw mentioned how she recently met students from Ukraine, and how she personally made an effort to include them in conversations, especially about their home towns and Ukraine, while still remaining conscious of the difficult emotions surrounding the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

For WSU students hoping to travel abroad for a semester, the study abroad team has worked on their goal of making study abroad options accessible to more students by offering students the chance to stay an entire semester working on an internship worth up to 12 credit hours.