As the end of the semester nears, students are packing their bags to return home to different cities, states and for some, different countries.
This semester, 5,399 enrolled students and 265 ESL students studied at UT from 122 different countries around the globe, with China, India, South Korea and Mexico bringing in the largest numbers. According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, UT benefits the most out of all Texas universities from international students. These students were able to experience American culture, student life on UT’s campus and a historic presidential election.
“One of the main contributions we bring to the University as international students is perspective,” said Alfonso Rojas Alvarez, who is from San José, Costa Rica. “Many of us come from countries where horrible things have happened, or happen every day.”
Alvarez, who blogs for International Voices through the UT International Office, said as an ESL international student, he is privileged to be at UT and to call this university home.
“It is our duty not only to our own countries but to the U.S. to do our best to make the world a better place,” Alvarez said. “Let’s make a difference and show everyone the huge intrinsic value in a more diverse and integrated society.”
Business junior Jonáš Kotyza is one of four students from the Czech Republic who studied at UT this semester. Kotyza said this was only his third time in the U.S. and his first time in Texas.
“We had choices between many universities, but I wanted to come to the U.S.,” Kotyza said. “I was choosing from Michigan, Atlanta or Texas and decided to come here because of the weather. It gets very cold in the Czech Republic, so I wanted to go somewhere different.”
Kotyza said this semester was great to experience American culture, watch the presidential election and see what American college football was all about.
“I play football back home, but the sport is not very popular in my country,”
Kotyza said. “Being at UT and watching college football in a huge stadium was amazing and one of my favorite experiences all semester.”
Adjusting to a new country was not very difficult for Kotyza. He said UT’s International Office did a great job helping him get acclimated to the University and provided a lot of resources to help international students.
Psychology freshman Yuwei Zhang, who is from Fujian, China, said being in a new country alone and away from family for a long period of time is very challenging but said she is happy to be at UT.
“At first, it was very overwhelming to transition from living at home with my parents in high school to living by myself and doing things on my own in a new country,” Zhang said. “I have enjoyed this semester as a Longhorn and have gotten to make a lot of friends and learn a lot about American culture. I am happy I decided to come to UT.”