An International Student’s Perspective on the Programs and Services Offered
by Erin Garvey ’22
When we think about the college application process, it can be very stressful, but most students do not
have to worry about transitioning into and accepting new cultures. For international students, their college experience may involve culture shock and new ways of life, on top of the already strenuous process.
Here at Providence College, a larger number of international students are being accepted every year into diverse programs, but the question remains: is PC providing them with the resources needed to thrive in our community or are they just accepting these students to improve their diversity numbers?
Preceding freshman orientation, international students are placed into a program that immerses them into the American culture. But can an international student be immersed in a new culture in under a week? This program includes trips to Target, the Providence Place Mall, and small sessions with specific professors here on campus. This week-long program, while well-intentioned, seems an inadequate measure to truly prepare international students for the PC experience and American way of life.
International students are expected to thrive and understand life in America when they might have grown up in a completely different culture for 18 years. The resources that PC provides are just scraping the tip of the iceberg of what international students need to become successful in the American culture.
Some of the resources international students are provided with are off-break housing and a welcome program that lasts a week, which international students are required to attend. As an international student myself, I have experienced first hand the complications that come with adjusting to a new lifestyle.
Thang Bui ‘22, also an international student, said, “In terms of internship and job search, the career center doesn’t have customization for international students. Let’s say they could do some research and make a list of companies that are willing to hire and sponsor international students’ work visas, but we just must figure it out on our own.”
Also, there is not much representation of international cultures at PC. The College sponsors activities that celebrate African American and Latino cultures, which are undoubtedly needed and beneficial, but they are still not comprehensive enough. One of the more inclusive and impactful measures colleges can take in terms of welcoming and recognizing different cultures and students from different backgrounds is having an international student office—which PC does not have.
It all boils down to the administration, which is not willing to adequately accommodate the international student body. Having said that, there are still basic resources for international students like English as a Second Language support, legal services, and orientation.
Ryan Mastroianni ‘21, an orientation leader, offered a summary of the College’s programs based on his first-hand experience welcoming international students to PC:
“Currently, PC offers an international student orientation, in which the international students arrive at college a week before the full student orientation, a program everyone participates in. This is intended to acclimate the international students to the new culture they are being immersed in. What is especially unique with this program is that students from all over can come together to reflect upon and prepare for the challenges they may face going to school in a foreign country.”
As exceptional as this sounds, this is just not enough. PC provides great resources before classes begin with the international student orientation, but fails to continue their effort throughout the college experience. Furthermore, while the College claims to provide housing and other support services to international students, these programs have not come without problems for some students.
Overall, while PC’s baseline offerings indicate that they do want to help international students, so long as those students themselves still require more support and see issues with existing services, there is room to make improvements.