A Long Way From Home: International Students at U.V.I

LILIANA MORENO REYES |

ST. THOMAS – The international students and the diversity they bring, lend quite a bit to the melting pot of the University of the Virgin Islands’ population. At UVI the population comprises American students, other Caribbean students and a small mixture of students from foreign countries. These students play an influential role in aspects of the university experience. Their impact extends to the economic, cultural and educational spheres.

Among other things, international students weigh heavily on the economic scale. They are required to pay tuition and other fees which are generally higher, than for resident students. In some instances, they are required to rent apartments, which in effect requires that they purchase food, buy groceries and take transportation to and from school and other places.

Aside from academia, students require some level of entertainment which oftentimes leads them to visit popular sites around the island, ‘hang out’ and spend money. To some extent, international students merit the same value as tourists. To say the least, they can be considered as tourists on an extended stay.

With various languages such as English, Spanish, French and others, international students bring a variety of slangs, phrases and dialects. Their unique languages encourage the bilingual spirit of some students who are interested in adopting the language of another country.

The overall varying lifestyle of international students introduces a new dimension to other students. Their differences in fashion, food preferences, norms and customs are all intertwined as they share the same temporary home.

The myriad of religious beliefs brought by international students help to open other student’s minds to what lies beyond their own culture. In essence, international students bring to the university a new way of life, a different culture.

An international student on the St. Thomas campus "hanging out" and enjoying island life.
An international student on the St. Thomas campus “hanging out” and enjoying island life. (photo credit: Liliana Morenoreyes)

Although all students come to UVI with the common goal of learning, international students bring with them a variety of different learning techniques which they are able to share. Similarly, students engaging in foreign languages can seek the assistance of international students who possess these languages as their first language. Peer tutoring is an asset to any learning institution as it is understood that while students may not grasp concepts taught by their professors, it is sometimes easier to understand material explained by a peer. Also, international students are known to excel even beyond their academic disciplines. Their involvement in a number of extracurricular activities helps them to stand out among other students.

It is fair to claim that international students serve an important role among the general UVI student population. It is understood that due to their different backgrounds, they possess a host of differences compared to resident students. Thus, when all the international students, American, other Caribbean and a small mixture of others are combined with the resident students, it produces a melting pot, a diverse university.

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