The CA community has always given a lot of care to freshmen by helping them adapt to a new academic system, a new way of life, and above all, the new community. However, this process has been especially difficult this year as COVID-19 spreads globally. Among the freshmen, there is one group of students which is in a particularly special situation: international students. Distanced from the CA campus by thousands of miles, new international students are facing an unique situation, and this article will outline some of their thoughts.

Overall, the international freshmen that were interviewed feel quite comfortable in this process of remote learning. The whole school has been doing its best to improve the students’ experience.

Will Liu ’24 shared, “Although we have to stay home, we can still have quality classes and do a lot of activities.” Students also appreciate the school’s effort to create a schedule that fits everyone. 

Raymond He ’24 thinks that the X/H block schedule on Wednesday is a very reasonable arrangement. He described it as a rest from the norm and working on solely academic work. Raymore shared, “[The Wednesday schedule] helps [me] refresh in the middle of the week” 

Anghelo Chavira ’24, another international student, is the President of the freshman class. He talked about his experience in the council meetings, “They are definitely doing things to improve everything from going back to campus to activities. In every way they are thinking about it and asking the students about their opinion.” Anghelo also really enjoys our advisory system and his meetings with his advisor, Mark Engerman, emphasizing the many things CA has executed well. 

However, the system still has many flaws, one of the most common being the issues it causes with time management. When speaking to procrastination, Raymond said, “I learned that I procrastinate a lot. If I were at CA, I would not procrastinate as much as I’m doing now. I’ll probably learn to control myself.” 

Anghelo also spoke about the question of procrastination, “I think time managing [is a problem]. I don’t have time for myself, really. I mean, I woke up at 6 am and ended up awake at around 2 am. I have multiple things to work on, obviously, the homework. It’s a problem for a great [number] of people.” 

There are also some problems with clubs. Valika Trivisvavet ’24 commented, “Sometimes [the clubs] send the link ten minutes before the meeting, and I didn’t set up an alarm for me to wake up, and then I could miss it.” These two problems are quite universal among first-year international students. 

The current situation is relatively stable, but what about the future? Most international students interviewed are not returning to campus for STAC 2, but hoped that they could be back in the spring semester. One of the biggest problems they have is that it is difficult to fly from their home to CA. For instance, Valika is in Thailand right now, and she explains her predicament, “There is no direct flight from Thailand to the US, so I need to go to Japan, Korea or China to transit. If there’s no flight, I wouldn’t be able to go.” She also has some concerns regarding the rule that parental guardians need to pick up their child in 24 hours. She said: “It is impossible because the travel time is already 24 hours.” Another big problem is not having the visa. Will Liu ’24 emphasized her point, “I don’t have a visa yet, and I don’t think a lot of us have it. It’s complicated for us.” 

As the school gradually opens, it is more important than ever for us not to ignore remote student groups like the first-year international students. CA has been supporting its students worldwide to the best of the community’s abilities. This pandemic has perhaps proven to be the best proof that we can overcome difficulties as long as we unite as a community and care for each other.