10 Questions International Students Often Hear

Being an international student can be a fun experience sometimes. You discover new cultures,meet new people, you even feel kind of excited to be away of strict dad or annoying siblings. The first months away, you are like “Um, okay.This is fun!” But as an international student myself, I can tell you…it can be quite challenging. Although we like to tell others about where we are from and talk proudly about our cultures, there are some questions we often get and it can be quite mind-boggling.


  • How do we pronounce your last name again? This is something I really struggle with because unless you are from Burundi or Rwanda, you will have a hard time pronouncing my name. Give it a try: say IRADUHAYE! See? I told you! I am sure I am not the only one to have experienced this. I never took it in a bad way though, there are some Canadian names I can’t pronounce correctly myself.
  • How do you like it here? I like this question because it kind of shows that they care about how you are liking their country. In my case, I always wondered how I should tell that I don’t like their Winter without sounding rude and I have come to realize that Canadians themselves don’t like Winter that much. So it is easy, you jut say: “I really like it. Expect for the Winter (smile)
  • Are you homesick? I understand that people are caring and that they want to help, but whenever you see me quiet, that does not mean I am depressed or homesick! I may be concerned about what I am going to have for dinner; as simple as that.
  • Do you know a guy called XYZ? People assume that where we’re from, everyone knows everyone. Ever experienced that? I always find it hilarious and when I politely say: No I don’t!, they seem very surprised. Although Burundi is a small country, it is not a village and I don’t know every single Burundian.

Hey reader! Are you from England? Do you know Sam? He is a good friend of mine. He is from England as well.

  • Where is your home country? YES, this is something we often face. Especially if you are from those countries we don’t see in the news frequently.

I am from Burundi. No, it is not in Europe, it is in Africa.Not Southern Africa but Eastern. No Nigeria is in the West and I have never been there. Oh wait, you know Rwanda? There we go, it is near Rwanda.

  • How is Africa? Is it like a huge jungle? Do you live with lions and elephants? Now, you tell me how I am supposed to respond to this.

I don’t know how to say Hello in Chinese, I am Korean. Lesson learned: All Asians are not Chinese!

  • Are you going home for Christmas too? This is a question we are often asked this time around because of course every student goes home for Christmas, but not me, not you neither I suppose, if you are an IS. Why? Simply because it takes me about 18 hours of flight to go home. Makes more sense now? You’re welcome!
  • How do you get from one place to another in your country? Um. We fly or…swim. I mean I really do not think there is a single country where there is no car in the 21st century.
  • How did you hear about this country? Well, the news, the internet.
  • Can you teach me how to say Hello in your language? Of all the above, this is my favorite questions to be asked  and Yes sure, say Yambu!

If you are an international student, comment and let me know if you agree or tell me a question that you are often asked in your host country.

Thanks for reading

’til Next time


photo credit: brocku.ca


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