So, where are you from?

Are you buried under with reading every night? Imagine having to do your reading in a foreign language.

If one were to take a look around our campus on any given day, they would start to notice the large number of international students that are a part of the California Lutheran University community.

According to the Cal Lutheran website, 45 different countries are represented here at the university. Among those countries represented are Norway, China, India, Sweden and many other nations from almost every continent.

The journey for these international students from their respective countries to Thousand Oaks is not an easy task, so the International Student Services is there to help expedite the process. Linda Boberg, the assistant director of International Student Services and Multicultural Programs, said there are a number of steps that prospective international students must take before enrolling at Cal Lutheran.

“Our office works primarily with students who come in on F-1 visas, which are student visas, and we also make sure that they are staying in compliance with immigration laws,” Boberg said. “We do this by meeting with them once a semester or once a term if they are a graduate student.”

Once admitted the journey has just begun for most international students, as for many of them it will be their first time living in America.

“The hardest part about moving to America from Sweden was leaving my family and my friends at home. It definitely takes a lot of courage to move to a new country, heck a new continent where you don’t know anyone and have nothing but a visa and some money,” senior Emilia Podsadniak, said.

As anyone can imagine moving from any nation to America would be a huge adjustment.

“It can be tough because as soon as they land at the airport they have to decipher everything that is going on around them,” Boberg said. “Even if they have learned English back home, it may be their first time having to use it conversationally.”

Junior Jordan Oram, who hails from Norway mentioned how tough the transition was at first.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from CLU. It caught me off guard, but I’ve learned a lot since being here,” Oram said. “I had to force myself to completely immerse myself with people from California. Otherwise I just didn’t get things.”

To help international students adjust to the Cal Lutheran community there are a number of different clubs and organizations on campus to help them get involved. For example there is the United Students of the World group that meets with the purpose of providing a place to support all the diverse cultural groups represented on campus. Other clubs offered by the Multicultural Programs Office are the Chinese Culture Club, Hillel (Jewish culture) and the Indian Student Club.

Junior International Student Abhi Sridharan Vaidehi said his transition to Cal Lutheran was tough at first due to the harsh circumstances he was used to seeing back in his native home, India.

“It was hard adjusting to America because I visit India every two years and it is a third world country and it was hard to comprehend first world issues and troubles when you see people suffering back home.”

He continued to say how he eventually began to feel at home once he made some open minded friends here at Cal Lutheran. “I felt comfortable once I began hanging around people that could think outside the box and view the world in a different perspective which was a lot of people,” said Sridharan Vaidehi.

A large part of the Cal Lutheran community is made up of international students and all of these different cultures allow for a wide range of diversity.

“Adjusting to the American culture is a process and I’m still adjusting. Even though Sweden and America are two western countries, there’s still a bunch of subtle cultural differences. Even though dealing with cultural differences is hard at times, I love them because it forces me to expand my ways of looking at things,” Podsadniak said. “I love living here, I have the best of two worlds. I basically have two lives that somehow combine into one.”

 

Alix Moise

Staff Writer

Published September 24, 2014