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The International Dilemma

Charlotte Im writes about her experience of being an international student.

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It’s not a pleasant experience, landing back in your home airport at 4AM in the morning, rubbing sleep out of your eyes, and knowing that you’ll have to do the same again in September. One week in, jet lag finally frees you up to fully appreciate the fact that you’re actually home.

Home means not having to clean up after yourself, not having to cook your own food. Home means visiting all the favourite restaurants that you’ve missed for an entire year, home means being able to speak in your own mother tongue, it means you’re no longer alone, lost in a foreign country. Home means finally seeing your family and friends in the flesh, not their pixelated versions through Skype. It’s not as emotional as this in reality, but you get the idea. No one will complain being back in the country that you’ve lived in for most of your life.

there’s a weird pang of homesickness when you see photos of your friends fooling around in Exeter

But Exeter is, in all aspects, a second home. There is always the knowledge that you’ll only be in Exeter for the duration of your course, and as most international students go, it’s likely that you’ll never step foot in Exeter after graduation unless for special occasions. When you’re scrolling through Facebook, there’s a weird pang of homesickness when you see photos of your friends fooling around in Exeter, or when there’s some sort of special event going on that you can’t attend, because you’re halfway across the world, and it’s accompanied with the realisation that you probably won’t be able to attend it at all even in the next few years, because you’re needed halfway across the world.

For international students, going to university in a foreign country is always partly like a dream – nothing we do fully prepares us for the experience of studying abroad, it’s full of possibilities and uncertainties. While home will always be a nice respite, it’s in our best interest to make the most out of the time in our second home.

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