Tuesday, July 26, 2016

From Fiji to Texas: What it's Like to be an International Student

“I arrived with one suitcase, and I wasn’t scared at all.”

Meet Cecilia Kim, junior aviation student. A self-described “third-culture kid,” she was born in South Korea and moved to Fiji at the age of eight. When it came time for her to choose a university, Cecilia considered going to college internationally. Her goal was to earn a bachelor’s degree in aviation; no such programs exist in Fiji, but she found her answer at LETU. 

Cecilia Kim
“There are a lot of aviation schools in the States, but LETU’s program had the best reputation and the most impressive alumni.”

With the decision made, Cecilia traveled to the U.S. for the very first time as a brand-new college freshman. This transition didn’t come without adjustments, but she had help from LETU faculty, staff and students through every step.

“Being an international aviation student, I had to go through the process of getting TSA approval. Professors were very supportive during that time. If I went to someone for help, they’d always find a way to make it work.”

“I also had to deal with learning adjustments–cultural learning styles are different here than in Fiji. With the help and encouragement of faculty, I have achieved my academic goals. I just flew my first solo flight!”

This new way of life wasn’t just full of difficult changes; it also brought some welcome developments for Cecilia.  

“Students here are very open. Where I’m from, friends aren’t as open with their feelings with each other. Fiji is very individualistic, and we do a lot of things by ourselves there. Students here take initiative and people become friends faster. At LETU, I have learned to trust people more.”

Cecilia, right after completing her first solo flight.
“There’s also a difference with professors. Here, you can address a professor in a friendly manner, but that wouldn’t be acceptable in Fiji.”

As a freshman, Cecilia immediately found her place in life groups:

“Life groups give us time to be together. We have dinner, messages and good discussions. We are like a family to each other. We pray for one another and are there for each other in hard situations.”

Cecilia wasn’t done traveling after she arrived in Texas. She’s spent her breaks from school visiting 15 different states in only two years. Boston and Chicago are her favorite cities so far.

“America feels like each state is its own country. The people, accents, land are all different. I feel like I’ve gotten to visit a bunch of different countries. I also now completely understand why people say Texas is its own country.”

The consensus on going to college internationally from this third-culture kid?

“Every day has favorite moments for me. This has been such an enjoyable transition, and I feel like God brought me to LETU for a reason.”