International students educate, learn in equal measure

Deepti Rao

International students flock to UT every year from all over the world to reap the benefits of a Longhorn education, unconsciously educating other students about the diversity of the world.

During the 2015-2016 school year, there were 5,166 international students enrolled. Most of these students came from Asia and Latin America, with a smaller percentage from Europe. However, there is a presence of students from every continent at UT. International students make up about nine percent of the UT population with the vast majority of students coming to attend the business school.

Although international students choose UT largely for their own benefit, education experts say they are helping shape the worldview of those they interact with, making the campus a more open-minded place.

Geology sophomore Arisa Ruangsirikulchai, from Thailand, said exposing UT students to different cultures leads to mutual understanding.

“Interacting with international students lets us see the world from other perspectives as well as dispelling some stereotypes we could have with others,” Ruangsirikulchai said.

Mark Bauer, a finance junior from Austria, said he brings a new culture that people can learn about not just academically, but also personally.

“This can increase cultural awareness and lead to a process of bilateral learning,” Bauer said.

African and African-American Studies professor Anthony Brown, said having international students as classmates can educate college students beyond the classroom.

“International students provide a different body of knowledge and … experiences to sustain different ideas that are learned in class,” Brown said.

A student from India, economics sophomore Preet Popat said she chose UT after spending a year studying in London because she felt the education system was mechanical and academically-oriented, making it more difficult for students to pursue their own interests.

“The States is way more flexible in the courses that you can take and offers a well-rounded education,” Popat said.  

Junior Mayra Cabello, a local student from Corpus Christi studying nutrition says experiencing the cultures of international peers  results in an appreciation for the complexity  of the world in a relatable and interesting way.

“It is a lot more fun to be around different kind of people especially if you make friends with international students, and get firsthand experience of different cultures and learn about them in a fun way,” Cabello said.