Part-time job: a little insight into American college students

I cannot believe it is only second week of school, since I almost feel like I have been through an entire academic year! Mini cases, research, group discussion, after class reading, part-time job, career info sessions, etc.; my life is preoccupied with all sorts of things to do with a variety of pressing deadlines. However, I still get the chance from time to time to savor my life in America.

I got an on-campus job to make sandwiches in the cafeteria at Raney Commons (one of the undergraduate student dorms on Ohio State’s Columbus campus). Previously, I was under the impression that only international students would take such a job as sandwich making since it is “behind the scenes” involves less interpersonal communication so English would not be much of a language barrier during work. But the first day of work proved that I was wrong—I was the only international student working on that shift.

Employees usually pair up and work together to make certain kinds of sandwiches. The work, though “semi-mechanical” (e.g. we normally first lay out all the bread, put already-prepared tomato and lettuce on, put meat and cheese on the top, and wrap them up), provides me with the chance to chat with my partner and catch a glimpse of college life for American students.

One guy I worked with told me that he used student loans to pay for his college tuition, which turned out to be a common practice among many American students. That also partially explains why local students tend to go to college here in Ohio instead of studying out of the state, out of financial consideration. (Tuition is relatively lower if you are a resident of Ohio when attending a state university such as Ohio State.) He has started earning himself a living by doing part-time jobs at a young age. His experience, though not fully representative of all American students, got me thinking, wondering what my life would be if I was in his shoes. Brought up in a living condition with the best that my family could offer, I take lots of things for granted. I realized that I have always lived under the shelter my parents have set up for me and, both consciously and unconsciously, believed that they would provide for all my needs. I don’t need to worry about the exorbitant tuition fee they paid for my studying overseas, as well as all the living costs here.

Another girl I met the other day served in the military while attending school at OSU, majoring in social work. Having spent four months in Afghanistan, she witnessed so much miserable lives struggling to eke out an existence there and, according to her, she even suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for a certain period of time. Though I have read a lot of news in the media about the war and military activities going on there, it still came as a shock to me upon hearing from her description of her time served there.

Although the part-time job consist only fraction of my life in a week, it offers me some insight into college life of my fellow American friends.

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