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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Stay Put

The update we received from our International Students Office:

International students should not travel outside of the U.S. at this time because of the quickly changing outcomes of these legal challenges, as well as the uncertainty of obtaining or renewing visas to enter the U.S.

Of course, many international students – especially the ones with passports from unprestigious places – never left the US throughout their course of study even before this. N was too terrified to go even just to Canada during his PhD. Who knows what whim will overcome the customs officer at the border.

I traveled freely with my Canadian passport, yet the customs officers were often unpleasant and sometimes downright aggressive. One, for instance, tore my student visa into shreds and threw it in the garbage. Just because.

A smart international student who does mind not being able to come back does stay put. People keep acting surprised that customs officers are mistreating travelers. This is only surprising for those who haven’t crossed the border with a non-US passport dozens of times like I did. The shit I’ve seen, you don’t want to know. And I’m white, female and pretty. People who don’t look like me have it much worse.

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7 thoughts on “Stay Put

  1. Shakti on said:

    Of course, many international students – especially the ones with passports from unprestigious places – never left the US throughout their course of study even before this.
    Plane tickets are expensive.

    People keep acting surprised that customs officers are mistreating travelers.
    Who acts surprised?
    Once my parents and I were naturalized, customs became much smoother. There is a whole set of behaviors I run through whenever I travel on planes or go through borders.
    If you go to the airport every day but never travel anywhere, the airport is purgatory.

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  2. Stringer bell on said:

    I’ve seen americans surprised at the fact that you need a visa to visit other countries. An american passport confers visa-free travel to so many countries that they forget sometimes how hard it is to plan trips abroad. For me, a trip to a conference in europe would require months of waiting, filling out forms, paying fees, visits to the consulate, at least one interview, proof of financial resources to pay for the trip. Basically, endless bureaucracy.

    An american (or german/swedish) person would just need to pay for the ticket on the day of travel and head out to the airport.

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    • Shakti on said:

      I’ve seen americans surprised at the fact that you need a visa to visit other countries. An american passport confers visa-free travel to so many countries that they forget sometimes how hard it is to plan trips abroad

      That’s if they even have a passport. Most Americans do not.

      I think a lot of liberal Americans with passports have more residual hostility towards “others” than they’d like to admit. I remember all the enthusiasm for all these security theater rules. But hey, nobody’s talking about making it illegal to carry guns in your luggage now. Americans love bureaucracy as long as it’s not directed at them.

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  3. I mentioned this to my mother, who retired from your school. The issue concerns Arab students, typically from wealthy families, who are used to frequent travel. With the start of the new term, the school wants to make sure the students will be enrolled and paying tuition.

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  4. There’s a Tolkien quote that I can’t find, but the gist of it is that when Sam approached Mordor, he realized the tower (and walls) were there to keep people in, not out…

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