By Wendy Liu, Class of 2018
Another September is heading to the end while another Family Weekend is close at hand. While I am a part of the Furman student body, I will not be involved in the on campus activities dubbed with the word “family.” I will see Furman’s local students surrounded by their dear parents, cute sisters and naughty brothers, but I will be alone.
What about us international students? We will bury ourselves in beds pretending to read, while our hearts have flown home over the oceans and lands. What we miss most might be the wrinkled face of our mothers, the grey hairs near fathers hairline, the flavor of food which can only be cooked by grandmas, or the familiar fragrance of home, but we will miss it and Family Weekend will make us miss us even more.
I believe that everything exists for a reason. Family Weekend too, has a reason: it is a wonderful opportunity for parents to connect with school and to know more about their children’s experiences. Furman should pay more attention, however, to how Family Weekend affects international students.
“I don’t care about these kinds of activities at all,” said an international student, “My parents cannot come. So why do I waste my time on the family activities without my family’s presence? The distance is the major problem, and I do not really think the money and time spent is worthy. My parents and I have to work. Our tuition fee is not a small deal, even they come to see me, and I will not have time to show them around the campus, to feel the cultural environment in the society. I have so much work to do.”
By structure, Family Weekend is designed for the local students’ and their families. It is physically and financially impossible for international students’ families to be with them during the Family Weekend. This is not simply a weekend problem; it has social repercussions across Furman’s campus.
Some people have prejudice about Chinese students hanging out together, and, exclusively. I think there are three reasons for this: First, Chinese students are afraid of speaking in English all the time. They have lack of self-confidence and oral English skills. Secondly, there is deep gap between difference cultures. Finally, international students enjoy a sense of gathering, a sense of belonging. All of these reasons connect to the fear of being lonely and loneliness means missing home.
I hope all the international students keep a positive attitude about culture shock and become brave to confront it and overcome it. This family weekend, we want to see the Furman University International Students Association make a change and start caring for their homesick international boys and girls, at least giving tips for overcoming the feeling of nostalgia. Only with improvements to get rid of the byproduct of studying abroad, can students be more effective in their studies and live a better life. We have come fairly far, but we still have a long way to go.