What I Learned in Yoga Class: A guide to understanding the international experience & needs

Rolled Up Yoga Mat

This summer, the University of Vermont (UVM) Career Center worked with alumni to pilot a job shadowing and networking event in Beijing and Shanghai, China. While on the trip, I was lucky enough to spend an hour in a yoga class. I was nervous and unsure of what to expect. I do not speak Mandarin and it had been a while since I had taken a yoga class. However, this class provided insight into the academic experiences of many international students. In order for me to be successful, like international students, I was challenged to:

  • Trust my teacher to push me and keep me safe
  • Let past experience guide me
  • Be okay with looking silly (and I looked silly)
  • Practice self-care and go at my own pace
  • Allow others to help me make adjustments, even if it hurts a little
  • Rely on my classmates to show me the correct path

After class, I laughed at how difficult the poses were, and how silly I looked. Through the difficulty, I was able to make connections between my time on the mat and the struggle and the resilience of those students who travel thousands of miles to learn, grow, and connect. I am not saying that one hour has given me a full understanding of the international student experience- far from that- but I am able to better empathize with my students because of this experience.

As the UVM International Student Career Counselor, I encourage students to take risks and get involved on campus. Many students experience social anxiety, shyness around speaking up (in another language) to share what they know or do not know, and culture shock—just like me in yoga. Whereas my experience was a single hour, international students face these challenges daily. When international students come to an international university they demonstrate the ability to work cross-culturally, possibly in a second language, the bravery to take on new tasks, and the motivation to succeed. The UVM Career Center is here to help all students gain the skills they need to get experiences to support their future goals and employment, in the US or beyond. I am committed to supporting their future endeavors wherever their job search takes them.

Events such as alumni networking and job shadowing allow students to think beyond the confines of the U.S. job market and build relationships that can support them wherever they go.

Though my insights were gained through time on my yoga mat, the lessons I learned will reach far beyond the reaches of that class.

–Kimberly Ead MS, International Student Career Counselor

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