Being an international student doesn’t make me inferior

LENKA ELEK isn’t from England. Get over it

debate England international racism

Hey. I’m talking to you, home student.

Firstly, let me introduce myself to you like I have countless times when I met you either at awkward freshers’ events or in foul-smelling clubs.

“I’m Lenka, and I come from…”

I can always predict your facial expression. No, it’s not fictional, and yes, it is in Europe.

Just because my accent isn’t British or American, doesn’t give you an excuse to look at me like I’m not worth talking to.

It’s often said that Cambridge is more international than English. About 20% of us don’t come from the UK.

It’s not all about that tiny blob in the middle

I don’t want to exaggerate or make generalisations, which would probably be incorrect and inappropriate, but seriously, you talk about equality!

You pop along to third-world countries supposedly to help people in need. You use big words which even you probably don’t actually know the meaning of. You’re constantly debating, defending blah blah blah. You’re just pretending.

You make all these sweeping claims about inclusion and breaking down borders, but then you drink, socialise and talk bullshit, trying to come across as cool. But you never think about how your actions contradict your aims.

You say you want to change the world but you fail to truly communicate with people. You say you would like to go travelling but you insult countries which aren’t renowned for their food, like Italy, or which aren’t as classy as France, claiming that they’re “shitholes”.

You say you are open-minded, but then you just stick with the same group of people and ignore the rest, simply because they’re different. 

It might be nice to widen your social circle once in a while

I’m an international student and as you’ve probably already noticed (with a snort of derision) my English isn’t perfect and my accent is probably recognisable after a few seconds. But that doesn’t make me inferior.

I fought to be here. My teachers were clueless about the Oxbridge application process, whereas you knew exactly where to step, how to move in the unknown waters. For me the whole process was like trying to navigate a swamp at night in the rain with a blindfold on.

You think you’re better than me just because you have the accent and use a wider range of vocab? It is not my fault that Cambridge is in England. 

I wrote this because of a few drunken words that were said to me, which have probably already been forgotten by now – but I was hurt.

You may tell me to “get over it, that’s just life.”

But ask yourself this before you decide that it’s amusing to pick up on someone else’s nationality, accent or appearance – try to think how would you feel if you were them. Imagine if Cambridge was in Madagascar instead of England.

Would you have got in if learning a second language was a condition of your offer?