My Fears as an International Student Coming to Rollins VS. the Reality of Being Here

By Sho Takeuchi, MPH’23 in Behavioral, Social, Health, and Education Sciences

The classroom was filled with many students. People were chatting with each other, but I did
not know anyone. I did not know where to sit. I took a seat close to the door. One student came
and sat next to me. I said “Hi” to him, although I do not know now who I met that day.
It was my first time arriving at Rollins in August 2021. It was an orientation session for new MPH
students at the Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences (BSHES) department. The
orientation was held at the Claudia Nance Rollins Building (CNR) auditorium, the biggest room
at Rollins currently.

I had many fears when I came to Rollins, even though studying here had been a long-time
dream. In fact, ten years had passed since I got interested in studying public health in the
United States. Today, I will talk about three fears I had when I came to Rollins.

Language has been one of the biggest fears. Honestly, even now. I lived in Japan before coming
to Rollins but spent more than twenty years studying English. However, I was apprehensive
about the language. I hesitated to speak with anyone because I was not confident about
understanding what someone said. “What if I do not understand what someone says after I
have spoken to them?”

The reality is even today, I am not confident about understanding what someone says. I cannot
say you do not need to worry about it. However, I have become more confident about asking
for additional explanations when I do not understand what they say. I always try to understand
what I should do or say from people’s facial expressions, the class slides, or the situations
around me. Verbal communication is not the only part of communication. You can receive
information from non-verbal communication.

Language skill is essential. However, it does not define you. It is just a part of who you are and
what you have.

Asian Hate
This topic can be controversial. I was seriously worried about Asian Hate. The 2021 Atlanta spa
shootings happened a few months before I arrived in Atlanta. Many friends in Japan tried to
stop me from coming to Rollins. But I did not listen to them. I already deferred my admission
because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I did not want to let Asian Hate disturb me from
studying public health.

The reality is I have been safe so far. I have never experienced Anti-Asian discrimination on and
off campus. Asian Hate has never limited my adventure and exploration of public health and
the United States. Of course, I cannot say you do not need to worry about it. You have to be
cautious about your safety. However, Emory, including Rollins, has never let Asian Hate
negatively affect Asian students’ lives. Also, you can have a great time in Atlanta! Hate has no
home at Emory and Atlanta.

Eating habits must change when you move to a new place. Eating healthier can be challenging
in the United States because it is too accessible to process junk or foods that are too salty or
sweet. Once you go to a supermarket, many attractive snacks and cakes are displayed! And,
honestly, they are DELICIOUS! As an international public health student, I can say that it is okay
to try to explore these snacks. But do not eat them every meal.

Additionally, eating out is extraordinarily expensive in the United States. In Atlanta, it is more
affordable then eating out in New York or California. Cooking at home is a more reasonable
choice. Many students enjoy going to the Rollins Café for lunch; it serves the purpose of offering healthier options at lower prices then neighboring food stalls and has a rotating menu of options. The reality is I describe my food habits in Atlanta as good and healthy.

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