The Struggles International Students Face at FPU

A deeper look into the college life of international students

Fresno Pacific University has a large International-Student population. Several international students are athletes, so they come for an opportunity to play their sport all the while receiving an education in America. Many come to California with the anticipation and vision in their head that Fresno, California will be just like what they have seen in the movies. The reality of Fresno is that it is a small town with a lot of surrounding agriculture. Fresno, as many of us local citizens can agree, is not Hollywood, San Francisco, or what you see in the movies. Many international students become disappointed when they realize Fresno and FPU are not what is in the movies, or what they imagined California and college life to be like. However, many of our international students still take this opportunity and attempt to make the most of it. 

Being a senior at FPU, I am close friends with a handful of international students. Through these friendships, I have realized the struggles they face while attending FPU. Many international students experience difficulty  with finding rides off campus for basic needs like doctor appointments or groceries.

 Being a commuter with access to  a car, I can attest to seeing the struggles my international friends face. Most times, I am their main mode of transportation. I offer them rides for basic necessities, like groceries and errands, or social events, like hiking and beach trips.By all means, I provide these experiences and opportunities to my international friends out of the kindness of my heart. However, not every international student at FPU has a friend with a car to provide rides. Another issue that sometimes  arises is availability for rides. I do  work and I have other commitments, so I am not always available to provide rides to my friends. 

The struggles that international students face when coming to FPU and America are real and have not been brought to light. International students make up a large population of FPU’s student body, and the resources given to these students is limited, especially now with COVID-19 protocols. 

When talking to some international students, many of them explained how Campus Safety was the main resource they used for rides off campus. However, with COVID-19, most of those services have been suspended. Below are quotes from international students who thank and appreciate the help that Campus Safety has given them in years past, but still express frustration with this service being currently  suspended.

“Most of the time, I was calling Campus Safety to ask for a ride to the airport, and they were very nice and available to me. Same thing when I asked for being picked up from the airport,” Senior Alice Di Matteo said.

“Campus safety helped me a lot. I sometimes called them to drop me off at Walmart or pick me up when I could not afford Uber. Most of the time they are available, but these past weeks because of Covid, they were not allowed to drive us.” Junior Lea Falentin said.

“Campus Safety used to be able to offer rides to Walmart but there are not doing it anymore so now I feel that FPU doesn’t help in any way,” Junior Alice Marques said.

International students also expressed another struggle. Finding  a vehicle is not their main conflict. They must plan in advance with a friend who has a car to go to the store and buy groceries. For those who do not have a friend who can provide a ride, they must resort to Uber or Lyft. Below are quotes from international students who have experienced this first hand. 

“FPU is far from any of the big groceries’ stores like Walmart for example and every week I need to do groceries and what I do is to ask a friend to drive me there but when I can’t find anyone available to drive me, I have to get an Uber which is expensive, and this is the most challenging part about not having a car,” Junior Alice Marques said.

“It is a real struggle not having transportation here. For example, just the fact to go get groceries is complicated because I have to get an Uber for the way to go and to go back. It costs me a lot of money not having transportation here because I have to spend it on uber.” Junior Lea Falentin said.

“When we want to do groceries, we need to make sure we plan it ahead and find someone that is willing to drive us. If there would be more stores or restaurants around campus it would definitely be easier,” First-year Graduate student Sanne Brull said.

The international students mentioned how COVID-19 restrictions have made transportation much more difficult to access. Brull explained how in years past The International Office used to organize events to help students with transportation. However,  due to COVID-19, those services are not offered. The pandemic has been ongoing for two years, and as a result,  international students are struggling on FPU campus.

Another difficulty international students have come across is the idea of college life and experiencing things outside of campus. From my personal experience with my international friends, I have made it a point to invite my friends off campus to experience new parts of Fresno and California. College is most definitely about education, but students can also have fun with friends. The international students that were interviewed explained how it is difficult to leave campus even if it is only for a day trip or on weekends. Below are quotes from international students who expressed their feelings about not being able to leave campus for fun social activities or trips. 

“It is also complicated to go out of campus because most of the cool stuff is far away, and sometimes I feel like I am stuck here,” Junior Lea Falentin said.

“Sometimes it can be hard to find a way to leave campus, especially on the weekends,” Graduate student Sanne Brull said. 

The struggles that FPU international students encounter are not at the fault of FPU alone. COVID-19, over the last two years, has played a big part in these struggles. I care about the college experience and accessibilities for my international friends and other international students.  Just as I am able to get the full college experience with access to a vehicle for my daily needs, so should international students. The difficulties international students face are legitimate, and as a student on campus who sees the struggle first hand through my friends, I feel obligated to speak on this matter and encourage change to happen for my international friends. 

Due to the many restrictions and difficulties the ongoing pandemic has placed on everyone, I look forward to new opportunities and accessibilities FPU will offer to its international students.

Written by: Nikki Campos | Editor in Chief

Graphic by: Nikki Campos

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