Study abroad: a good tool for independence

The admission of international students at Tech never stops. Tech always focuses on international education and cross-cultural experience, which accounts for a great number of international students within the University, according to Charles Wilkerson, Office of International Students Affairs director.”We have about 500 applicants,” Wilkerson said. “We get more for fall than we do for spring. For fall we have 300 students, while in spring the number of students is about 150 -200.”

The most popular majors among Tech International students are chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, business, and management.

Remarkably, about 77 countries are represent at Tech. The biggest groups of international students are from Saudi Arabia and South Korea with roughly more than 100 in each, India with about 70 students, and China with approximately 40 students, according to the data from Wilkerson.

“We have bilateral agreements with Egypt, South Korea, India, Japan, Turkey, Iraq, France, Sweden, Italy, and Germany. Some departments might have agreements with different countries, for instance, the College of Mechanical Engineering,” Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson said he believes international cross-cultural experience is essential and valuable for everybody, given the impact of globalization. He got his bachelor degree in Japan.

“It made me a different person,” Wilkerson said. “When you study abroad you have to grow up. You have to fix yourself and find resources to fix yourself. It’s a good tool to become more independent.

“This is my sixth year at Tech. It’s interesting to see how responsible and independent students become. They grew from kids to adults. Sometimes it makes me be proud that students grown up. I can see the differences in students after the first year. Before their study at Tech, their parents had to send the messages and they were always making arrangements for them. Afterwards, students started doing it themselves”.

At the same time some students might face emotional, physiological and physical problems.

“Students have several different things happening at the same time: troubles with their grades, family problems, and struggling with adjustment to new culture,”Wilkerson said. “Sometimes it’s too much.

“Some students were medically evacuated back home lasts year because they had emotional breakdown and couldn’t handle it. We had to send them home. We don’t do it without consideration of the consequences. It has to be very serious situation. But these cases are very rare: one in a million. Usually, most students cope with such kind of problem”.

The most serious problem for international students is the violation of immigration law.

“For example, I didn’t have Christmas last year because 4 of Korean student didn’t follow the certain rules and were in jail: they were driving with expired international driver licenses which were not permitted here anymore. I was dealing with getting them out of jail.”

“Some students who didn’t follow the immigration rules last year were jailed for several years. I feel the responsibility. I don’t want students to go to jail. I don’t want FBI coming into a class, removing them and taking them in airport and putting on the first plane back because I told them something wrong or didn’t tell them something right. That’s why every student should attend Immigration Orientation. Every student I’ve validated should be informed.

However, most students follow the immigration policy and get valuable experience from the study at Tech.