Campus wide, Student Life, Student Stories

Being an international student at Charleston Southern University

By Zanelle Willemse | February 6, 2023

The transition from high school to college can be very difficult for students, even more so for international students. Thankfully, Charleston Southern University offers a lot of resources to students to not only make their transition into the university a lot smoother but also their years throughout until graduation.

Some of the resources CSU offers are free counseling, academic advisors per major, a recreation center with various workout classes to not only maintain a healthy lifestyle but to be able to relieve stress in a healthy manner, and a career center to explore different careers and receive guidance about different career options to help you decide on a major and career path or to make sure you’re on the right career path. 

For international students, there is a separate counselor to help guide them in the admissions process and then help with their transition and adjustment to life on campus. First-year student, Sam Waldin, from Auckland, New Zealand, shared some of his experiences in his transition to the States and CSU with the help of his international counselor, Cheryl Gimple. Waldin said that “She just was the person I went to for everything. Plus she didn’t just do paperwork, but Zoom calls and texts and checkups on how I’m getting on in general.” 

The application process for international students is fairly similar to the regular application process, with the addition of a couple elements. Along with their transcripts, they will need to provide a photocopy of their passports as a means of identification. Even though SAT/ACT scores are not required for international students, the students are encouraged to take either of those tests so that they may accurately be placed in courses at CSU, and can also help them meet the requirement for English proficiency. Should international students choose not to take either of these standardized tests, those who are not native English speakers will be required to take and pass an English proficiency test. 

Once at CSU, the international student counseling on campus is a great resource for the international students to feel taken care of during their time at CSU. These counselors frequently check in on the international students to make sure they’re adjusting comfortably to life on campus and succeeding in the classroom, and to help them get involved in clubs/groups and events on campus. 

It is normal for students to feel homesick during their time at college, especially for those who have traveled farther away from home. A way to combat homesickness is to get involved in activities around campus and meet new people and form new friendships. Along with the Sweet 16 events, there are intramural clubs and activities going on around campus for everyone to get involved in. There is also an International Students Club, in which the international students can come together for different bonding events and feel a part of something uniquely special as a group. 

For Waldin, who is on the men’s cross country and track and field teams, what has helped him adjust to being away from home is the bonds he formed with his teammates. “At first, I had no idea how the guys on the team would be. I was nervous about how we would all get on, since we all come from different backgrounds and have such different personalities. However, our common interest in running has helped us form such close bonds that these guys have become my brothers,” Waldin said. 

Waldin offers advice to other international students to “be involved in whatever you can on campus. Go join an intramural club if you’re not an athlete. Find people with your common interests. It will help you feel so much more at home here on campus.”

Despite being away from home, there are various ways to make CSU your home away from home, and to form bonds with new people who will become like family. For students considering studying abroad, do not be afraid of the unknowns or becoming too homesick. Studying abroad will offer a new perspective in your life and could offer a change, and challenge, that you did not know you might have needed. 

Zanelle Willemse is a senior communication major and is a spring 2023 intern with the Office of Marketing & Communication.

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