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The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

International students: what to know to survive school at SBCC

The City College website highlights the steps necessary for international students to enroll in classes at City College. Photo illustration by Sofia Stavins.

Year after year, students leave home to pursue their education in the United States; fitting as many clothes and memorabilia as possible into the limited amount of suitcases available.

Through the many different reasons for traveling abroad and the unique interests in study, international students go through many obstacles to get an education at City College. 

Obtaining a visa is the first step for many international students. The students must get visas before any education in the U.S. can happen. The specific document needed is the F-1 visa, otherwise called a student visa, which is required in order to stay in the country by studying at a college or university. 

While holding the F-1 visa students are not allowed to work outside of campus but can work on campus. 

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Jean DeDieu, an international student from Toulouse, France, takes 16.5 units, striving towards his goal to become an actor and finish his degree in acting. 

DeDieu does not work on or off campus. However, because of this, the need to be smart with finances arises. 

“It can be challenging because it is a very expensive city; Santa Barbara is very expensive and school is even more expensive for internationals,” DeDieu said.

Though managing finances and getting a job are a few of the responsibilities that come with being a student, some international students choose not to get jobs and instead strictly focus on their academic careers. 

The process for students coming from abroad usually starts with a school called Education First.

EF is a school which serves international students from all around the world and teaches them English before they are integrated into the school of their choosing. 

After EF, the students are able to see first-hand what American education is like and further allows them to get to know locals of the city and country. 

“I believe that as long as you’re nice to people, they’re nice to you back,” DeDieu said. 

City College offers resources for international students within the school to thrive in their studies in places like The Well and the International Students Office

“The International Students Office, I think that it is really important to go there pretty often for international students because we can get lost quite easily with everything since it is a totally different country and there is a language barrier,” DeDieu said. 

Along with the standard two-year education at City College, international students are able to pursue jobs through an Optional Practical Training program

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, OPT is a program for students with the F-1 visas to participate in temporary employment in the students’ field of study. 

This training is offered to students for pre-completion of school, but not until after they have completed one academic year at an accredited school. 

Students may work at a job within their major through OPT, while holding at least 20 hours or remaining full-time after completing their studies. 

The process for studying abroad may seem like a strenuous journey, but programs are available to ease financial burdens.

“As long as you have a purpose and you want to follow your dream, go for it. There are opportunities and open doors, I think they should go for it,” DeDieu said.

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