Foreign Exchange Students’ American Expectations

By Victoria Remley

Jambar Contributor

Many foreign exchange students at YSU did not know what America would be like, and have a long list of things they wish they knew before arriving.

Yazeed Almesned, a senior civil engineering major, came to America five years ago from Saudi Arabia.

Almesned said he would have wanted to know America is individual-oriented, while Saudi Arabia is group oriented.

“Here, by the time you are 18, 19, 20, you should be out of the house and not living with your family anymore. You have to pay your own rent and a lot of families here, even if their kid is going to come back to live with them, are going to charge them rent for the room. It may not be much, but that’s how individualistic orientation works,” Almesned said.

Group-oriented countries value keeping families together more than individual-oriented countries.

“In group-oriented countries, people get married and still live with their parents. Most of the time, the grandpa owns the house and the whole family lives there. Or they own a building in a neighborhood and they all live there,” Almesned said.

America handles problems differently than the Middle East.

“Hypothetically speaking, if a person here has a problem and they have to go to court or something, they have to face it by themselves. In Saudi Arabia, no. If you have a problem then the whole family has a problem,” Almesned said.

Bhupal Baral, a freshman computer science major, came to YSU on Aug. 15 from Nepal, India.

Baral said he would have liked to know America is not the same as what is seen on T.V.

“I watched American Hollywood films, but when I landed in the airport in Chicago it was totally different. There is no pollution here. Back in our country the pollution density is very high and more people live together. Here, we can take a breath of fresh air,” Baral said.

Baral said he wanted to know the rate of depression in America is different than in Nepal.

“A lot of people are depressed here, which is very bad. Back in our country the rate of depression is very low, but here that’s a big problem. We need to focus ourselves to not be depressed. Seeing depression makes us depressed, so we need to be careful about that because we have left all our family, all our friends to come here to do something great and out of the box,” Baral said.

Ibrahim Al-Qanber, a senior chemical engineering major, came to America Jan. 9, 2014 from Saudi Arabia.

Al-Qanber prepared for his trip to America by talking to his brothers.

“After I finished high school, I had some time to think about what I was going to do with my future. I already had two of my brothers here at YSU, so I asked them about the school and the education,” Alqanber said.

“I asked what’s different between here and back home. They encouraged me to apply to YSU and I came here. I couldn’t speak English that well so I studied a year of language. Then I started taking classes at YSU,” Al-Qanber said.

Al-Qanber said he would have liked to know how cold it is in America and how hard adjusting to being away from his family would be.

“You leave your friends, your family, your home and your town. You left everyone you’ve known since you were born and come here to meet new people, new culture, new language, new weather new everything. So basically, you are born again,” Al-Qanber said.

Al-Qanber said he wished he knew how hard it would be to find food.

“Because I come from the Middle East, all the countries there are an Islam religion, it’s hard to find food because our religion allows us to eat meat or chicken only if it’s killed in a certain way. So, it’s hard for us to find the food we need,” Al-Qanber said.