To stay or not to stay

When the end of the fall semester approaches, students at Norwich start to plan whether they are coming back for one more semester, going home or transferring. For international students, it is not a simple process and decision to make.

According to U.S. students at Norwich, it is normally not a hard decision. They are all in their country, and the decision of staying or leaving the institution is based on their academics or family issues. But for international students, it is based on a lot more, sometimes difficult, factors.

“It is the end of the semester, and I still don’t feel comfortable here,” said freshman Bivek Rana, who is 19 and a health science major who came all the way from Nepal. “It is a really hard decision to make, because I have to consider a lot of things when coming up with what is best for me.”

The long distances from their country and homesickness are always a strong factor that has a lot of weight in their decision. And according to international students, it sometimes gets into the way of their major goals as a student.

“I knew before coming here that I would have a lot of challenges, since I’m not in my country. But I knew the importance of getting an education here at Norwich for my future, and that is why I decided to give it a chance.” Rana said. “But it is harder than what I expected, I have been thinking a lot about it, and the fact that I miss my family and I’m not in my country started to be something that I can’t deal with.”

When international students struggle not to become preoccupied or distracted, their lives at Norwich become way harder. Though for some students that are able to adapt to their new life at Norwich, leaving the school is something that they don’t think about.

“Thankfully, I came to Norwich as a soccer recruit, so being here to do what I love made it easier for me to be away from home,” said junior Alessandro Delia, 22, a business major from Empoli in Italy. “If I didn’t have soccer I don’t think I would’ve stayed, because I would have struggled a lot to make new friends and to adapt by myself to the life here.”

According to international students involved with sports, the practices and games routine offers kind of a relief from stress for them.

“During my freshman year I still struggled a lot. I really wanted to be in Italy with my friends and family, but soccer helped me make new friends and to find a new family,” Delia said. “The soccer season really helped me while I was sad for not being in my country. Every time I practiced or played, I completely forgot I was so far from home, because I was doing something I loved, and the guys from the team always supported me a lot since they knew my situation.”

One of the things that add to stress for foreign students is the fact that their process of acceptance to transfer to another school is complicated and takes a lot of time.

“I was thinking about transferring to a school in a bigger city, but after I found out how complicated was for me to transfer, I decided to stay here next semester,” said freshman Rameshwar Shrestha, 20, another Nepalese student from Khandbari who is majoring in computer science. “I would have to come back home, and in Nepal go to the American consulate to transfer my visa and all the documentation, and that would take a lot of time.”

Shrestha also commented on how difficult and lengthy his process of being accepted to Norwich was at first. He said it took almost five months for him to receive an answer from Norwich, and he said that going through this process all over again wasn’t worth it.

“Transferring would not be worth it for me, I have everything I need here at Norwich, and for me to get this opportunity was really hard.” Shrestha said. “I wouldn’t even get accepted in another school in time for me to start studying there in the right date, so I figured the right decision for me, it’s to stay here and finish my four years at Norwich.”

Adapting to a new culture, language and lifestyle and dealing with distance from family and friends, were all issues mentioned by these international students when deciding what to do in the upcoming semester. But dealing with all of that in order to get the degree they want, is also part of maturing.

“I’m now going to my fourth semester here at Norwich, and I’m glad I decided to stay instead of transferring or going back home, back there in my freshman year,” said sophomore Ivan Bansah, 20, a health science major from Ghana. “It wasn’t easy, but it is not supposed to be easy. I knew back there that all these difficulties were only going to make me a better person and student,” Bansah said.

Students said that a key to overcoming the concerns about whether to stay or go is having the right mindset and knowing that it is a period of their lives that will define their future and the person they will become. If you can absorb that idea, it becomes an easy decision whether to leave or stay.

“Deciding to stay and accepting all the challenges of being an international student here, was the best decision of my life.” Bansah said. “I already became a more mature person, and I’m focused on the major goal, which is to get my diploma. I know it will always be challenging, but it will be worth it in the end.”

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