For junior Maddy Ledger, it was learning how to navigate the health care system and finding out that Target sold groceries in addition to furniture and clothing. For sophomore Julia Leb, it was adapting to the pressure of U.S. college culture and adjusting to the “stupid funny” humor that replaced the abrasive jokes she was accustomed to. For senior Tia Razafy, it was getting used to the lack of diversity among the student body and coming to terms with the idea of spending holidays alone on campus. Under immigration law, some international students are citizens, while others are permanent residents or temporary residents with student visas. According to the Office of Admission, an international student is any noncitizen who applies to USC. However, this narrow definition does not capture the full scope of international identity and how that might differ from one student to the next. As an international student and the first in her family to attend college, it was challenging for her to be in a new place away from her home in Canada during her first semester. Moving into her dorm in August 2018 was Leb’s first taste of Los Angeles and her first time witnessing campus life. “I feel like it’s easier to find your place here,” she said. “Like, no matter if you want to be more ‘Americanized,’ or if you still want to stay within your culture, there’s always a group here.” USC prides itself on its global diversity. It is surpassed only by New York University in the 2019 Institute of International Education survey for the size of its international student population, which makes up nearly a quarter of the student body. The incoming freshman class hails from 96 countries, with large representation from China, India, South Korea, Canada and Mexico. Students go to OIS when they have visa- or work-related inquiries. The office is also a key player in international recruitment and the architect of events and programs designed to strengthen the sense of community among the international student body. While some international students may be more or less involved with the office depending on their specific needs, every international student interacts with OIS over the course of their studies. For Razafy, who is majoring in global health and public health and hails from Madagascar, arriving at USC and living outside of the African continent for the first time was a massive culture shock. Razafy encountered adjustments she didn’t expect, even though globe-trotting was nothing new for her since she grew up living in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Senegal and attended international schools since the second grade. She and her classmates were expected to go through American school and then attend a university in the United Kingdom, Canada or the United States, but the lack of a diverse student body and living so far from home made it difficult for Razafy to adjust to USC at first. Ledger, Leb and Razafy, along with many other international students who made the decision to pursue their studies at USC, found the transition strange at some points and difficult at others. They’ve learned to adapt to new norms and a college culture distinct in its social and academic values, and that shared experience is something that has made the international community at the University tight-knit, despite the wide range of backgrounds. Of the three different visas available to international students entering the U.S., the F-1 visa is by far the most ubiquitous and popular, as it provides students with the opportunity to work while they study. Depending on the immigration laws at play, students may elect to remain in the U.S. throughout their undergraduate education or to travel back and forth. “Going on holiday and spending a month there is very different than living there and getting your everyday life sorted out,” Ledger said. “It was a huge adjustment, just little things like how do I go to the doctor — tiny things that you’re so used to at home, but it’s just different.” While some international students already felt at home in America when they arrived at USC, for others, a wave of culture shock accompanied their transition to college. Some said they identified exclusively with those from the same country or background, while others felt a sense of community with the international student population at large. USC students hail from across the globe. The Daily Trojan spoke to six students from different countries about their experience adapting to college life. Lyu said strong connections like these are what has made the international community at USC feel like home. “I feel like overall, it’s easy to find one’s own place here,” Lyu said. That’s how Koll first felt when she started high school. She was thrown off by the individualistic nature of her new environment, accustomed to the collectivist culture in her home country of Japan. “When I was in high school, I had a lot of trouble making friends because … I wasn’t able to have a proper conversation with anyone,” Lyu said. Through the Office of International Services, University programming and student- and alumni-led organizations, USC works to guide its international student community through life on campus and beyond, Rhone said. However, some international students encounter the transition period earlier. The Office of Admission typically points students to merit scholarships, Undergraduate Admission director Lisa Rhone said. International students are eligible for USC’s merit scholarships along with some scholarships provided by individual departments that are given directly to students in the form of monthly stipends. FINDING COMMUNITY It was a huge adjustment, just little thingslike how do I go to the doctor — tiny thingsthat you’re so used to at home, but it’s justdifferent.MADDIE LEDGERJunior, Architectural Studies “By the time you get to college, you’ve kind of had your crazy times,” said Ledger, who is majoring in architectural studies. “We definitely noticed there was a disconnect between a lot of the other kids that were in that, especially in Greek life, and us. So we just kind of had each other, and I’m really glad that we did because it made our adjustments much easier.” “I think part of that is that I didn’t have anyone telling me, you know, ‘This might be really hard at first, but then it’s gonna get really fun,’ or ‘You might experience culture shock, even in America, even though America and Canada seem to be so similar,’” said Leb, who is majoring in philosophy, politics and law. “Honestly, I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting it to be super rough, and it ended up being super rough.” “Whether it’s in the classroom or I don’t know, with my society or whatever it is, I feel like I always just try and stay conscious of the other people’s feelings and just do whatever I can in order to not only benefit me but benefit the group,” Koll said. “I feel like I just noticed that a lot of, I don’t know, just the West in general is just very one-track minded, [the] one goal is to benefit myself.” Outside of differences in the education system and navigating the visa process, international students are also left to manage the costs of USC’s private education, which exceeds $77,000 in estimated cost of attendance following years of steady increase. Need-based financial aid doesn’t apply to international students, meaning they must navigate the price of higher education largely on their own. “Holidays [make you realize] you’re an international student, when everyone leaves and then you just end up being the only one on campus,” Razafy said. Despite USC’s emphasis on supporting its international student population by tailoring specific orientations and programming to them, Leb said institutional help only goes so far when adjusting to a new environment. Razafy is not the only international student dealing with the stress brought on by the process of acquiring and maintaining a student visa. Depending on the region from which one applies, one’s student visa might be usable for multiple entries while others may require the student to reapply for a visa in their home country after a single entry. Abroad, USC Global Offices and local alumni associations keep the Trojan family strong, Rhone said. The University opened its ninth office in London in 2018, but before then the region’s alumni club had been active, hosting workshops and meetup events to build the USC community. BECOMING AN EXPAT Though being an international student never explicitly defined her college experience, Razafy said her expat status feels more salient as a senior: While American peers are easing through the transition from graduation to working life, international students are confronted with a litany of bureaucratic and immigration-related obstacles if they want to work in the country. Because of high costs, distance from home and the possibility of having to reapply for a student visa if she leaves, Razafy elected to stay in the United States until she graduates. While her parents have come to see her in California, she explained it can be tough to watch her friends visit their loved ones so frequently. “Kids at USC bond a lot, not necessarily over being from the same country, but from not being from America,” Leb said. Though the language was the same, along with the clothing styles and media consumption, there were references Leb didn’t understand and a large divide in how students had grown up academically. While Leb didn’t feel strong university pressure from her school until she started taking government exams in the 10th grade, many of her American peers at USC had been planning for college their whole lives. Ledger, who is a U.S. citizen because her mother is American, was born in the U.K. and grew up in Australia. She has family in the United States and has visited numerous times on vacation but has never lived or spent an extended amount of time here. Under the Undergraduate Student Government, the International Student Assembly hosts career workshops and informational sessions to teach students how to navigate feats such as getting a U.S. driver’s license and understanding the rules of football. The organization also hosts the annual Globefest, which is open to the entire USC community and showcases food, traditions and performances from different countries. Just as individuals differ in the extent to which they identify as an international student, they also take on a variety of approaches when adjusting to life at USC. “All these Americans came to college, hit the ground running on a mission to accomplish what they knew to be what you’re going to college for,” Leb said. “Like, what is the college experience? What friends do you have to make? What things do you have to do? What are [the] bucket list things of college freshman year?” “Although I was surrounded by American teachers growing up, it was my first time being in such a homogenous environment,” Razafy said. Lyu, a junior majoring in public relations, moved to Ohio from China when she was 15, driven to take advantage of educational resources unavailable in her hometown such as robust SAT preparation and a wide range of AP classes. But new resources were accompanied by new challenges. Holidays [make you realize] you’re aninternational student, when everyoneleaves and then you just end up being theonly one on campus.TIA RAZAFI Senior, Global Health and Public Health Junior Ashley Lyu and sophomore Pria Koll both attended boarding high school in the United States; because they primarily dealt with adjusting to U.S. culture then, the transition to USC was much smoother. A quarter of USC’s student population is international, and yet this community is often underrepresented in the stories that are told at the University. In our special “A Long Way From Home” supplement issue, the Daily Trojan aims to spotlight the perspectives of international students who shape the culture of USC. Find all the stories here. For Lyu, student-led organizations such as the Chinese Students and Scholars Association are among the most effective resources for helping international students feel at home. USC’s large international student community and Los Angeles’ diverse population, she explained, mean that there is a place for everyone to feel comfortable. For Ledger, who is from Australia, having an international roommate freshman year helped smoothen the transition. With her British roommate, Ledger navigated U.S. college culture as she rushed Greek life in Fall 2017 and observed fellow U.S. classmates experience drinking for the first time, something they had both already been through in their own countries, where the legal drinking age is 18. USC harbors myriad clubs and organizations tailored to bringing students of similar backgrounds together, including the Armenian Students’ Association, the Italian Club and the Korean Business Student Organization. OVERCOMING HURDLES “Honestly, I don’t know what I was expecting,but I wasn’t expecting it to be super rough,and it ended up being super rough.”JULIA LEBSophomore, Philosophy, Politics and Law Socializing looks very different from culture to culture, and people who have their first experience abroad at USC often encounter sociolinguistic barriers that prevent them from feeling at home, Lyu said. Read more about how international students adjust to USC here.
Last week, Wisconsin’s men’s soccer team found itself in a tight rivalry match on the road against Marquette. The Badgers fought into two overtimes, but eventually the No. 9 team in the nation prospered and the Golden Eagles claimed the spot of top soccer program in the state.This week, Wisconsin gets a second chance to prove their dominance over other in-state teams as rival University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (5-4-2) comes to Madison Wednesday night.This installment of the rivalry will represent the thirtieth-straight year these teams have faced each other. Over the past 29 years, Wisconsin has compiled a record of 14-9-6 against Milwaukee including victories in the last four affairs, not allowing a goal to the Panthers since 2007.Their superiority in the rivalry has Wisconsin feeling a hint of exclusivity needs to be protected in Wednesday’s game.“This is definitely one of [the in-state rivalries],” freshman defender Adam Lauko said. “Coach [John Trask] said something [Monday] about how all those guys want to be here, so we have to show them they don’t belong.”The Badgers are certainly looking forward to extending their dominance, and with some fighting words nonetheless.With a season record of just 3-5-3 and winless in the Big Ten, any momentum is exactly what Wisconsin is looking for as just seven games remain on the regular season schedule.The Badgers are coming off a shutout loss at No. 14 Indiana last weekend and a victory could go a long way in helping prepare for another Big Ten opponent, Michigan, next weekend.The Hoosiers triumphed with a score of 2-0 in a game that featured few opportunities for the Badgers. Trask noted Indiana dominated the game, but the experience was one that the team could learn from.“There’s a reason Indiana is ranked around the top ten, and on that day, they were better than us,” Trask said. “Hopefully our guys learned good lessons on the speed of play needed to compete against those top teams in the country.”They will get their first test of quality speed Wednesday night at the hand of Milwaukee midfielder Laurie Bell.Bell just won the Horizon League Men’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week award for the second time already this season. His five goals are second best in the Horizon and his tally of four assists tie him for the top spot in the conference. He has attempted more shots than anyone in the league (41), which is almost twice as much as the leading Badger, Chris Prince (23).While Bell is an integral part of the Panthers offense, the Badgers are not particularly concerned with specific efforts to deter Bell’s effectiveness.“We haven’t really been focusing on him very much,” junior defender Paul Yonga said. “We just want to make sure we are doing the right things and focus in on us. We know if we play well and stay focused on that, we’ll be able to get a victory.”In addition to the defense of starters Lauko and Yonga, stopping Bell may come from a less-than-likely source Wednesday.A not-so-new guy will be in goal for the Badgers, much like he has been against Milwaukee the last two seasons. After losing his starting position to freshman Chase Rau in the season’s first game, Max Jentsch will start his second game of the season as the Badgers’ goalkeeper.Although he hasn’t played in more than six weeks, Jentsch is a familiar back end to the Wisconsin defense. The junior retained the starting position in the second half of his freshman season in 2009 and started throughout most of the 2010 season. He has plenty of experience with 26 career starts, and Coach Trask is giving him another chance.“As we said, [goalie] has been a competitive position and we’re going to give Max the game Wednesday,” Trask said. “It’s time to get Max back in the game, it has been awhile, and he has been playing great in practice.”A goalie switch midseason may seem reactive or as more of a demotion of the former starter Rau, but the Jentsch switch shouldn’t throw the Badgers off very much. At least they don’t think it will.“We played with Max all last year and we’re all used to him,” Yonga said. “Max is a good goalie and a leader out there as a junior. I think we’re all comfortable with either him or Chase in goal.”With just a handful of games remaining, the Badgers will look to win not only the Milwaukee game, but many more as the season progresses. Their struggles through the first half of the season have them in a must-win situation in order to boost their NCAA tournament resume.“Almost every game for the rest of the year is a must-win,” Lauko said. “Last year the team had ten wins, and if we want to get to ten wins, we pretty much have to win out.”