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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Home away from home

TAMU+Flags
TAMU Flags

When Alex Demblon flew to Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston from Zimbabwe for his freshman year at Texas A&M, all he had was $1,000 cash and a bag of clothes. 
Demblon will graduate in December with a degree in mechanical engineering. During his time at A&M, he became the captain of the Men’s Rugby Club and currently works at the Offshore Research Center. He said his favorite part about college, however, was being able to experience a place that was different from what he was used to.
“Obviously having good degrees is one thing, because this is a fantastic university — especially for engineering — so I leave with a world-renowned degree, which is first prize, but I got to spend four years in America, somewhere different,” Demblon said. 
Demblon’s experience as an international student is not unlike those of other international students. However, making the transition to a new place and a new culture isn’t always easy. Braeden Hood, chemical engineering senior, is an international student from Australia. Hood came to Texas A&M initially as an exchange student, but after his first semester he decided to transfer and finish his degree at A&M. Hood said the hardest part about being an international student was leaving his family behind.
“I would definitely recommend Skype or WhatsApp, some type of easy communication with your family so you don’t fall off track, because it’s really, really easy to fall off the grid,” Hood said. “It’s not bad, getting heavily involved in A&M, but your family will still miss you, and and your friends as well.” 
Hood said college in Australia is very different from college in America.
“I guess the strangest part would be how in to football people were,” Hood said. “I knew that people loved football, but you’d see people that were normal and nice and then it would come to a football game and they’d turn into demonic monsters. That is a thing to look out for, is how much Texans and Aggies love football.”
 International students have many experiences that are different from domestic students, but Demblon said a major one is the amount of paperwork that must be filled out in order for them to stay in school. 
“You’ve never had to file taxes this complicated in your life,“ Demblon said. “The deadlines and such are so strict. International Student Services do hold workshops and such but it doesn’t make it any more enjoyable.”
Ross Navarro is an international student from Trinidad and Tobag. Navarro has family in Austin and an uncle who graduated from A&M in 1995, which led him to apply to school in Texas. Navarro said being an international student is a great conversation starter.
“University students are naturally curious and they want to know about where you came from,” Navarro said. “Most of them will have crazy stereotypes that they’ll ask you about, like, ‘Do you guys live in trees?’ And they’ll sound kind of ignorant but it’s really funny to hear what people think and to share what you know about your home, and I love mine so to be able to tell people about the culture and how we celebrate and what we celebrate is really cool.”

Alyssa Brady, supply chain management senior, is a member of International Student Mentor Association, an organization on campus that works to connect American A&M students with international students. Brady said in her experience as a member of the ISMA, one of the biggest challenge she’s seen international students face is that they don’t have modes of transportation.

“I just met a guy from New Zealand … and he said he walked from White Creek Apartments to Target and back, in the rain,” Brady said.

Demblon said one way to immerse yourself in the new culture is to try new things.

“My advice is just to go for it,” Demblon said. “You’re different, enjoy it, you’re somewhere new. Enjoy being different, but be yourself. The bottom line is you’re here to experience something different, so you gotta make the most of it.”
Demblon said being an international student has already given him memorable experiences that he will cherish forever.

“I hadn’t been here before and I’ve gotten to travel, and see different things, meet different people and make great friends from around the world,” Demblon said. “And, as far as lifelong things, I could have got a degree almost anywhere but the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had — the memories — that will be with me forever, so that’s the most special thing.”
 

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