As an international student from the Bahamas, one of the many questions I'm asked, besides how I adapted to the below 50-degree weather, is how I adjusted to going to college abroad. My story explores college life at JWU from an international student’s perspective.
From the Beach to the Snow
For many, the motivation to go off to college stems from the desire to establish oneself in an industry they’re passionate about and attain their goals while becoming a source of motivation to others.
Through the eyes of an international student, the phrase “going off to college” goes far beyond academics and the likes of collegiate life within a new country. It entails applying, packing, moving, adjusting and sacrifice, all of which contribute to a dream in the making. There is also the task of grasping the unfortunate reality of temporarily saying goodbye to old routines, loved ones and a beloved pet. Nonetheless, you move forward to embrace a vibrant future, with new friends and to make new memories.
As a native of the Bahamas, naturally I was accustomed to 85-degree days, the ocean breeze, little to no traffic and the convenience of living near a white sandy beach. However, I now live in downtown Providence surrounded by tall buildings and the bustle of working professionals. This environment inspires me to devote my time and energy to the goals I’ve set despite the inevitable challenges.
“Surrounded by fellow international students, I instantly built friendships and bonded through the similarities shared.”
Following my arrival at JWU in the fall of 2017, I immediately felt a sense of comfort as I was greeted by familiar weather and a knowledgeable orientation team clad in fluorescent green t-shirts. Surrounded by fellow international students, I instantly built friendships and bonded through the similarities shared.
As the year progressed, I swiftly adjusted to city living despite the desperate cravings for Bahamian food, fueled by the many pictures sent to me by my family. Nonetheless, classroom introductions presented a platform for me to discuss the 1,209 miles I traveled between Providence and the Bahamas. I didn’t expect so many people to be amazed, yet baffled, by my origin.
City life invited the reoccurring question, “Why did you leave the beach to come to the snow?” I typically answered this by saying, “I’ve never seen snow before,” among other explanations. Anticipating the winter to come, coats, gloves, boots and scarves, for the first time, became the top items on my shopping list as I listened to the slushy weather forecasts. On the ninth of December, I finally witnessed the spectacle I’d been waiting for — snow. It was a simple yet captivating occurrence.
Pursuing a bachelor’s degree at JWU in Culinary Arts and Food Service Management has introduced me to new experiences, opportunities and individuals who are passionate about a student’s progression academically. The university provides countless resources for students through clubs, counselors and on-campus activities that helps balance the inescapable feeling of homesickness. Since my enrollment, I have joined several clubs and organizations including Eta Sigma Delta International Hospitality Honor Society. Though college life abroad brings its fair share of challenges, the positive growth it manifests overcomes the negative aspects. Exploring a new country, community and college from another perspective has granted me a new appreciation of my own.
As I prepare to graduate, I take with me the many memories made, friendships established and the pride of being a Wildcat.
Learning the Tourism Trade in Coastal R.I.