Inspired by Humans of New York, The State News spoke to international students about their fears, families and the lessons they learned after coming to the United States. Here are some of their stories.
International Students of East Lansing
Political science senior Jaehyun Park
“I didn’t speak good English. ... I knew what they were saying, but I couldn’t reply back, so that was kind of frustrating. Usually in Korea I was like usually the front-person, leader-type. I was class president and stuff like that. But when I got here, I couldn’t speak so nobody tried to take time to listen to what I’m saying. I usually just listened to people. That kind of changed my personality, so now I’m not like going forward and when people are around I usually don’t say something right away, I just watch people.”
Electrical engineer sophomore Byungchan Go
“Why I chose MSU is – it’s kind of related to my dream. I always wanted to visit Antarctica and MSU was the only university which provides going abroad for Antarctica.”
Go read a book when he was 9-years-old about an expedition to Antarctica.
“After reading that book, I decided that sometime I would visit Antarctica in my life.”
“Since I was a young kid, every year North Korea said we would attack you, we will throw a bomb into Seoul, but every time it was kind of bullshit. ... But moreover, I am going to South Korean army for two years next January, so I am worrying about that a little,” Go said.
“Before Kim Jong Un, like his father, Kim Jong Il, they wanted to get something from South Korea or other international countries. They always use this same kind of same technique, but this time what I worry about is all the leaders right now … like Russia, there’s Putin, in China there is Xi Jinping and in America there is President Trump, so I feel like all the leaders have a strong leadership type where they kind of make force. Before then there was always a leader who was kind of calm and tried to solve everything, but this time they’re exchanging words that means war. ... My parents are worried, but I’m not worried. ... I don’t think Kim Jong Un is stupid enough to start a war because he doesn’t want to lose anything,” Park said.
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Museum studies graduate student Katy Bahrami on the travel ban:
“We are directly affected by that. For example, we haven’t meet our families in like two years. We can easily go back home, but it’s risky, there’s no guarantee if we can come back again. ... It is hard, we have some difficulties here, but on the other hand we have new opportunities here and also we get more educated. … I never thought that it would happen to me that I can’t see my mother, my father or my family for a long time. So I think it made me stronger that I came here. Everything is good here, but you don’t have that support that you have back home.”
“Most people think that I can’t go home because my home is not safe. But I want to tell people that my home is really, really safe. I love it. ... But I have this problem that has really affected me and my husband and all of my friends.”
English senior Yisi Fan
“In China, the part that I belong, for our generation, love is something in common. But for my parents’ generation it’s hard to let them tell you they love you. They just pay your tuition fee, take care of you but never say ‘love.’ ... Every time I finish conversation, I tell my father, ‘I love you,’ he responds with a picture of something. … One day I told him, ‘Father if someone says I love you, you should say I love you too instead of saying nothing.’ So he said, 'I love you too'. And after that, sometimes even if I haven’t said anything, he says, 'I love you too.' It’s really adorable. I think it’s really sweet to see how people change for you.”