I still remember my very first day in the US as an international student, when I got so confused at the cashier in Walmart because I didn’t know what a dime was, or when I went into a Japanese restaurant and loudly called at the waiter for food just like I would at home in Vietnam instead of waiting for him to come to my table.
Through those small, but significant experiences here in the US, I came to understand the struggles of incoming international students. Luckily, I found the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB), which was the perfect place to share, learn, and help other international students.
ISAB, is a student group made up of both international and domestic students from around the world, coming together to advocate for better living conditions for international students at UCSB. Together, the students on the ISAB board collected over $20,000 of funding from Associated Students to distribute to international student clubs on campus through the Global Gaucho Commission.
We are also planning on building a new Storage space for international students to provide them with a place to store their stuff during summer. Through ISAB, I have learned so much about active listening, which allows me to actively listen to people and understand their stories, rather than focusing on myself and giving advice all the time.
Through the ISAB, I learned about other international students’ native cultures and how their educations and social lives back home differ from their new lifestyles in the U.S. I also learned how to work in a team, how to collect data, how to code the data that we collected, and many other skills that I would not have gotten anywhere else.
I am happy that when I tell my stories about the dime incident at Walmart or my misadventure with the waiter, that other students can relate to them and even tell similar stories about their own cultural shocks. I am glad to share my stories, to listen to other stories, and to appreciate the friendship we make from our similar, but unique stories.
The ISAB will continue to support international students as we strive to create a welcoming and positive environment that serves as a home away from for the international student community at UCSB.