International Students living the American Dream at Santa Monica College?

International students have landed here in California to live the American dream but they could not imagine how much of a nightmare it could become when you finally understand all the existing rules and criteria to let them remain eligible for an F-1 visa.

Which one of you hasn't dreamt before of walking on the Californian campus after class and heading to your "chill" job at the library? I did.

Our parents were asked to prove they could afford a minimum of $19,000 for a year at Santa Monica College but when I asked the question of the possibility of getting a job, the answer I got is this: I was told you can only work on-campus up to 19.5 hours per week throughout the first year. From here, it makes you think that you will be fine and you will be able to earn extra money on the side to support your parent's efforts in helping you meet all the expenses associated with the American lifestyle we envisioned.

Santa Monica College is very famous for its successful transferring process in many of the most prestigious universities of the country and this is the reason why many of us are here. Not only that, but also because of this hard time with economy, school accepted a lot more students than usually. However, a majority of you answered to one of our poll this semester and testified about how overcrowded our campus became.

I found out that the waiting list for a job as a tutor at the modern language lab, for example, is so long that it would make you start at the time when you would already have applied to universities and be ready to transfer. The school counselors assisting international students at SMC advise you to keep looking and go around to other departments such as the bookstore (which is famous for hiring the most on campus), the library, or you can also check out SMC's website and its section concerning employment on-campus

But how many student help opportunities are offered compared to the federal work- study ones?

After completing a year of college or university level studies, International students may be eligible for an on or off campus internship directly related to their major field of study. This could be a great opportunity but most of the internships are not paid jobs.

Then, if you were lucky enough to finally get a paying job, you would still have to speak with the Student Services Specialist responsible for immigration issues to determine whether or not you are eligible, and speak with the Internship Office on campus as well to sign up. If you graduate with an AA degree though, you maybe eligible for one year of full-time employment directly related to your major field of study, which is called the "practical training" but you would still have to speak with the Student Services Specialist in the International Education Center to determine eligibility, again.

All these regulations put you in a situation where you don't really have many choices, and in a time where the economy is struggling, and an issue for everyone looking for employment, we all end up wondering: what are our alternatives?

Dreaming of a life as a student in America is one thing, but actually affording the American Dream is another thing... As much as I'm happy to be part of such a resourceful experience, I'm concerned about all my colleagues and youth in the rest of the world that is still dreaming of an American education back in their respective countries.