Ibrahim Aksoy, Staff Writer
Each year, thousands of foreign students go abroad to study. Many of them choose the United States to improve their education and personal development. Studying and exploring a new country simultaneously is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many.
Located just 20 miles from New York City, Bergen Community College attracts many different international students, too. Aleyna Tutus, a new member of the International Student Center, is all too familiar with this foreign adventure.
“I was not planning to leave my country. I made this decision so suddenly first to learn English, then I found myself in England. Once I adopted the culture, I never wanted to go back,” she said.
Any country helps you find a treasure hidden there, something that may not exist in your native country. However, America is one step ahead. In the United States, personal development is at the forefront, while it’s limited in Europe. “If you work hard you will get what you want, sooner or later,” Tutus continued.
One important obstacle international students face around the country is that you don’t get to share the same classroom with American students while learning English. Nevertheless, you may overcome this behavior as soon as you start taking college courses.
Tutus first landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport, located in Queens, New York, in 2017. The first thing she remembers is a Customs and Border Protection agent asking to see her required documents, which must be kept on hand when entering the United States as an international student. “I had to wait at the customs for a while. I know that was not a good memory to remember,” she adds while laughing.
American and British culture aren’t completely different, neither is adapting to them. Having lived in England and followed American television shows closely, Tutus was expecting to see what she had dreamed of. Still, whatever she sees here gives her joy.
Though most international students’ first goal is to go to a four-year college, the cost of attending may become a barrier. Tutus followed the same path but happened to find herself at a California community college.
Despite having been in the United States for the last two years, this is her first semester at Bergen. Los Angeles, Calif. used to be home for her, but she never felt comfortable there. Lack of transportation and city life compared to New York City along with campus life made her move to New Jersey.
“When I first entered the main building, I felt like not being at a community college. Then I thought this could be a good place to transfer,” she says about her first impression of Bergen.
Being able to transfer her credits and the support she has received from the International Student Center sealed the decision to become a Bergen Bulldog.
The International Student Center (ISC) at Bergen Community College helps foreign students to follow up on their visa and legal status, provides academic advice and organizes international student festivals where each member performs their culture and food. The ISC is located in Room C-102 at Pitkin Education Center.