In Tunisia, same as in any other country, international students will find themselves “Lost in Translation”. The concept of being a foreigner in a complete different country is undoubtedly a frightening thought, especially when it comes to studying abroad. Based on my own experience, foreign students are everywhere to be found in my current institute. As a matter of fact, those students are basically from China; Every time I catch sight of them, they always have their own group and I even sometimes feel that they are afraid to blend with the other Tunisian students, probably because they were unaccustomed to the occurring changes or perhaps they felt more and more homesick. Actually, it deserves to be noted that the issue of the opposing cultures in general should not be taken so lightly. Having said that, I think that trying to understand the other culture is a basic need for every foreign student. Whether in terms of belief, language, history or even customs and etiquette, a partial grasp of the host country’s particularity is highly required. And it is not only that for it is a two way street; In this case for instance, Tunisians have to respect the other and accept his differences. However, as time goes by, I have figured out lately that the Chinese students have started to get familiar with their new entourage. Honestly, I felt relieved for it was noticeable for me that by each passing day, they have started to make more friends and get familiar with the other students.
In terms of the major problems that they have faced, a random Chinese student will say that it is a matter of language; Since they are not that good at English and they neither speak French nor Arabic, communication would be so difficult that they will not be able to mingle with the natives. Another issue to highlight is this unconscious fear of the other; whether we like to admit it or not, the majority of people are basically afraid of those who are different from them. In one way or another and in case the counterpart does not show hospitable attitude, fear and sometimes indifference will reign. But still, those students have mentioned also that even though there were some certain obstacles, deep down, they wanted to build friendships and discover a whole new culture along with its authenticity and specificity. Well, they were not mistaken for Tunisian students were so down to earth and they were open to know them more.
Ultimately, I believe that open-mindedness and respect are cultures in themselves and no one can deny the fact that bridging the gaps between two or even more different countries has become a crucial point to start with, especially that we, humans, no longer belong to one nation; We are beyond borders, we are global citizens (“Mon semblable, – Mon frère!”)