Eastern Michigan University is a diverse campus. People come from all over the world to study here and walking around campus, it’s easy to notice this diversity. Approximately four percent of the students enrolled at EMU are international students.
Talking to some of the international students, it’s apparent the decision to study in a different country is life-changing.
“I was supposed to go to a university in Japan, but my dad came here on business. So my mom, older sister and I decided to come with him. It’s very encouraging to have my parents here with me. It would have been harder without family.” said Yuriko Takano, a freshman.
“In Japan we only read and write English, we don’t speak it. So it was a little difficult for me at first. I wouldn’t have come here if my family hadn’t come with me,” Takano said.
What seems to be the hardest about moving to a different country is having to start life all over again and making new friends.
“I was interested in learning about a different culture,” Jophie Ren Chen said. “That was why I chose to study in a different country. It wasn’t easy since everything was new. But I enjoyed the process of starting my life again in a new country since no one would know about my past.”
Chen is a senior at EMU. She plans to pursue her graduate studies here as well.
“I think it takes courage and a strong will to be able to make the decision to study in a different country. I’d worry about being accepted by the people of the country I went to. And it would definitely be difficult to adjust to the culture and way of life in that particular country,” said David Rose, a student born and brought up in Saline.
Mouhamed Sanni, a computer science major said, “Back home I had my group of friends but my first year here was pretty tough on me.
“I got homesick and felt like turning around and going home. I hung out with international students cause I identified with them. The following year I started branching out and made friends with Americans, too. Now, I’ve got a big group of friends from all over.” Mouhamed Sanni is from Gabon in Central Africa and has been here for six years.
Chen thinks after coming here she also started to understand her country better.
“Being in a different country gave me a good perspective on my own country,” She said. “I tried many things that I have never done before, and I learned so much that I would not be able to learn if I were in China.”
Yuparat Charoenpermpunsakul, another EMU student said, “I wanted to study as well as travel and choosing to study in a different country made sense.” While she enjoys interacting with people from different backgrounds, she feels most comfortable with people from her own country cause she can speak in her native language.
Most international students share similar stories. Chen said, “The best thing about making this decision was the opportunity to be independent while the worst thing was being so far away from home and missing my family.”