By Landry Mony
St. Petersburg College (SPC) has around 190 students attending the college from overseas. International Student Representative Angela Cole and international student Donald Korca talk about the steps it takes to get here, not only financially but also emotionally.
SPC’s international students come from all over the world. The top 10, according to Cole are Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Brazil, India, Morocco, Venezuela, China, Korea, Taiwan, and Albania. The first step that these students had to take in order to come here and receive an education was to obtain a visa. A visa allows students to live in the United States as long as they are enrolled in school full time. It may seem easy enough, but the biggest part of the application is showing proof that one can afford the cost. “A year of studying at SPC can cost up to $26,514, and you also have to have health care,” says Cole.
The good thing about SPC and many other schools is that even international students can take part in applying for scholarships to help pay for school. Also, some countries pay for their students to come to the United States and learn. “In some nations, the government helps pay for students to come to America and study. Saudi Arabia is one of those countries,” says Cole, which might explain why a great number of our international students are from there.
Once students receive their visas and finally come to the United States, they must find a place to live. Unfortunately, since SPC does not offer student housing, students must find their own. According to Cole, “The school has no plans for housing in the near future. The school does have a helpful link online for finding an alternative place to stay.”
Donald Korca has been an international student at SPC since this past summer. He’s originally from Albania, and says he was able to come to America to study on a student green card. “The process is very long,” he says. It took me about 7-8 months to get all the paperwork finalized. The most important part was to show that I was financially stable in my own country. The state does not want people coming here if they can’t afford it.” He also said that the most difficult adjustment was getting used to the American lifestyle. “People are stressed here. You have to drive here. Back in Albania, I would take the train, and I never had to drive anywhere. The food is also different here.” Korca also points out, “Every student here has to work. In Europe, if you’re a student you don’t work. Not being able to talk to my family and friends when I want” is the hardest part about being here, he says.” There’s a 6 hour difference, so if I have any problems, I can’t just call them at 3 A.M.” However, he says, “The benefit is a better future. It’s a good opportunity to study here because an American degree is better than an Albanian degree.”
Originally published October 25, 2014.