Near and Far: Adjusting to home away – and not so away – from home

by Brenna Peters – Features Editor 

Starting college can be a challenge for incoming freshmen whether they come from the nearby area or from far away. This year, Hesston College has international students from 16 different countries, making up approximately 9.5 percent of the student body.

One student in the 9.5 percent is Jose Lezama, a student from Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

Flags representing each of the 17 countries of origin line the walls of the Hesston College cafeteria.
Flags from each of the 17 home countries of Hesston College students line the cafeteria walls.

“I am excited for the opportunity to get a good education while also getting to experience a new country,” said Lezama.

Along with Lezama’s excitement, he also faces some challenges of going to college in America.

“The hardest part is being so far away from my family and friends,” said Lezama.

Another considerable difference that international students face is the contrast in culture.

According to Lezama, “American people follow more rules. In Venezuela, people kiss each other on the cheek to greet one another.”

A student from Africa who didn’t want to give a name experienced another cultural difference.

“There are lots of differences here,” she said. “It is easier to get to know your neighbors in Africa. American people mind their own business more.”

The challenges that international students face are far more than the challenges that local students face. Andrea Peters from Hesston, Kansas, said that her main challenge is that there is nothing around for her to explore because she knows the area so well. But local students clearly experience some advantages to being close to home.

“I like being close to my family because I have a good relationship with them,” said Sadie Winter from Newton KS.  “I am able to benefit from going to college close to home because I can do my laundry at home for free.

Students from near and far face challenges regardless of where they are from, but most students would agree that the opportunities and the chance to get an education at Hesston College far outweigh any of the challenges that they face.

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