Heavy hearts, clear minds: the story of international students

Anush Aryal


Amun Kharel could be considered just another average guy from Kathmandu. Kharel played various sports on the weekend, supported FC Barcelona and lived all his life with his family. It was an easy-going life until he got the itch for more. He found himself yearning for higher education in the field of management information systems, but more than that, he wanted the education in an international setting. He soon found himself considering life as an expatriate in the United States.

There can be a separate column for how ugly or beautiful the process from thought to action is, but the fact remains that Kharel eventually decided to move his life across the Atlantic. On Aug. 4, he joined a record-breaking group of international students, the largest group ever to enroll at Mississippi University for Women. Each student had his or her own dream of life in America, but also the sinking realization that home was now thousands of miles away. They were now segregated from the lives they had lived so comfortably. 

They came with a dream to make it big in the big nation and an audacity to endure physical, mental and emotional hardships. They came with heavy hearts but clear minds. Yet they found themselves taking the side of the heart and conspiring against the mind. Some were spotted sobbing in the garden for the first few days. Wasn’t the garden supposed to be the place where one can pout the mouth and take the selfies? The same homesickness that struck thousands of students across America pulled no punches as it swept across the students in Columbus, Miss.

“The following day of my arrival, I woke up and I was like, ‘Where am I? Why isn’t my mother complaining to my dad about how pampered I’ve become because I was in the bed at 11 in the morning?’,” said Kharel. “All the incidents since I left my home with two massive luggage and a red Tika on my forehead came in front of me. I was already in tears.”

He tried to call his mother through an app called Viber, but when she answered, he found himself so upset that he couldn’t speak. His homesickness demolished the castle of self-esteem.

“I thought I was the strongest person in the world, but I was wrecked in half,” Kharel said.
Over the next few days, he found himself with a strong dislike towards Columbus and The W. He did not like the food that was served at the cafeteria, he did not like the silence of the small city that is Columbus and he did not like the thought of this being his second life and having to start from scratch once again.

Part two of "Heavy hearts, clear minds" can be found here.