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.

My brand new start with the Fisher College of Business

A month ago, when I first stepped out of the airplane after landing in the United States, I realized it was a brand new start for me. Though the journey seemed long and lonely, and weariness came over me, I could not resist the sense of excitement; I knew it was going to be a fulfilling personal experience in my life.

A lot of my friends commented on my decision to study in the US for grad school as both crazy and brave  –  I could have stayed in my hometown with a stable and desirable job with KPMG (China). Some even suggested that I should find someone to marry soon (this coming from a traditional Chinese perspective). But I felt reluctant to betray my long-cherished dream, which was to study abroad. So I firmly made up my mind and did my preparation for applying to the MAcc program: Resign my position, take the language test (TOEFL) and GMAT, and say farewell to my hometown, my country, and my friends.

Through I led a miserably busy life juggling with a variety of things, including the CPA, exam, GMAT, TOEFL and application for grad school, I knew it was only insignificant and not worth mentioning when it comes to study abroad. First days in Columbus were very happy. I stayed with my kind and friendly host family, who was curious about Chinese culture. They showed me around Columbus and we went to both American and Chinese restaurants, where we talked about the difference between the two life styles from a cultural perspective. They gave me a big hand during my first days after moving into my apartment.

Then a series of program orientation events and socializing activities came in quick succession, all a lot of fun and really eye-opening. Some call it the ” silence before the storm.” It was not until school officially started that I fully comprehended this old saying. I am overwhelmed by the coming job/interview related  events, all sorts of student clubs, football games, challenging courses, welcome parties, PT work and so forth. It seems that I need 48 hours a day to deal with them! But I love this kind of busy life because it makes me feel fulfilled: I am fully utilizing almost every minute of 24/7.

I’d like to share my personal experience and reflections of what I have encountered in my life studying overseas as an international student. Surely I need time to adjust to the brand new environment but I am excited about it!

To be continued.

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