Buzz Blog

Big Risks Equal Big Rewards For International Students

By Chris Oates

Shenandoah University students call many different places home. Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and various parts of Virginia are the hotspots for incoming freshmen and transfers.

While most of us can make a simple 2 hour drive back home over a long weekend or for christmas break, other students aren’t so lucky.


According to Lora Steiner, The International Student Advisor for the University, says that little over 80 international students makeup little over 3,800 total student body here at Shenandoah University.

Students from abroad come to pursue opportunities that could change their lives in a new home. Whether it is a pursuit of education and to graduate with a degree, athletics, or even just a change in scenery.


“Many of our students struggle with adapting to slang and they way we speak… our tone of voice coming from us in a sarcastic and funny way to our friends is common but to a student from another country some who aren’t accustomed to it may get offended” said Steiner. “Americans tend to value really direct communication, and we don’t ‘sugarcoat’ a lot of things”.


She goes onto say that the similar ways American students hear about Shenandoah is how international students hear about it as well. “It is shocking. Most international students hear about Shenandoah through various independent research about a program that we offer, word of mouth by somebody who formerly went here… ultimately being close to D.C is a huge part of it”.


While some abroad students research Shenandoah University about their programs. Some of our programs tend to look for ‘diamonds in the rough’ from other countries.

Harry Wall, a freshman from Wellington, New Zealand, was given an opportunity to not only come to Shenandoah University to get an education, but also was recruited to play on our Men’s Basketball team.

“I took a big risk,” said Wall. He also said he had some doubts about living so far from home. When asked about his doubts to fit in at Shenandoah. “I wanted to find out what I liked and didn’t like about it, and if I could really live so far away from home”. Wall’s flight from Auckland International Airport to Dulles Airport in Virginia was almost 22 hours.

“Many people have helped me fit right in. A lot of faculty from the International Program from the University invited me along with other kids that came from other countries” said Wall. “I met a lot of people from my FYS class and went to dinner with them…. it got me closer with people on campus.”


Wall credits his teammates and coaches when asked about how basketball has helped him with fitting into American culture. “Coach Walsh and Coach Peters have been great to me with their understanding… and have helped me with a lot of stuff since I came here.”


Wall understands that his life as a international student will always be important to him. “I miss my family, but I want to pursue things in life and I know it will be difficult, but I can do it” said Wall. “Of course at the beginning of the year, so many people asked me about my accent and how New Zealand is and it was a bit annoying, but now that we’re in the second semester they know me as Harry Wall, Shenandoah student and not just the kid from New Zealand”

Photo credits to SU Hornets

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