Plenty of Keene State students study abroad year after year, but most don’t think about how many students come to the United States to study here. More specifically, who is coming to Keene State to study abroad?

This semester, Keene State has welcomed 11 students from six different countries including Belarus, Egypt, England, Ireland, Japan and Pakistan, according Skye Stephenson, the director of the Global Education Office

Stephenson said, “Three of these students are here on U.S. government grants and were selected in a highly competitive process in their home countries. For instance, for the student here from Pakistan, he was selected from thousands of applicants for less than 100 spaces.”

Yuichiro Yamadai is one of the international Japanese students studying at KSC this semester and next semester.

Yamadai is 19-years-old and taking classes in psychology, economics, management and criminal justice this semester.

In his free time, he stated enjoys talking and spending time with his friends, who are KSC students.

The climate here in New Hampshire is much different than where Yamadai is from.

Jacob Paquin / Equinox Staff

Jacob Paquin / Equinox Staff

“Here is colder than my hometown, so it is hard for me to survive,” Yamadai stated.

Yamadai said the thing he misses most about Japan is the food.

He said the food is much more “tasty” there, and he misses sushi and yakitori, which is comparable to grilled chicken.

Yamadai’s  lifelong goals include becoming a billionaire and marrying his, “beloved person.”

Coming to America, Yamadai stated, “I was surprised that American people don’t take a bath so often.

Also, there is no bathtub in the dorm, which is surprising. Even if they have [a] bathtub, they just take a shower, not soak in the bathwater.”

Yamadai’s desire to come and study at Keene State came from wanting to take technical classes in film and art studies.

Stephenson said having foreign exchange students at Keene State is important and significant.

“They contribute so much to our campus community and classrooms, bringing in cross-cultural perspectives, opinions and viewpoints. It is also important for all of us to interact with people who are ‘different’ than what we are familiar with in accent, nationality, religion and lifestyle. Now, there is fear among some people about our differences, rather than celebrating the great gifts and beauty that come with the diverse range of the human cultures and experiences,” Stephenson said.

She continued, “In our part of the USA, we tend to have less contact with human cultural diversity than do people in other parts of the USA. Bringing international students to our campus helps contribute in some small way to increasing global understanding and, hopefully, world peace.”

Stephenson said that foreign exchange students experience different difficulties while getting adjusted to studying in the United States.

“It depends on where they come from and their own experiences and personality.  That said, it can be hard for them to get used to the U.S. educational system that is very different than most of their home countries. It is especially challenging the many assignments, high importance put on classroom participation and attendance policies that some of them feel are more like their high schools than a university. They also worry about their English. Even students from England and Ireland do because of differences in spelling,” Syephenson explained.

Stephenson added that some of the students also become nervous about living with roommates because in most residence halls in Europe, all of the rooms are singles or the exchange students live at home.

Also, the differences in the legal drinking age is a challenge for some.

The Global Education Office helps these foreign exchange students with their transition from the start of the application continuing through while they are here at Keene State.

“We help them with visas, course selection and more. We arrange their arrival and give them an orientation prior to the start of KSC courses. We check in with them frequently and have several outings throughout the semester to give them more exposure to U.S. culture and society.  Last semester, for instance, the exchange students helped out at the NY marathon,” Stephenson said.

At Keene, there is not one, but two Japanese international students this semester.

Satoko Saito is studying theater directing while she attends KSC.

Saito said, “English is very hard for me.” She continues to learn more as he attends classes that are dominantly spoken in English.

Saito said this week has been very busy and she has lots of things to do as the first week of the semester  comes to a close.

Emma Hamilton can be contacted at ehamilton@kscequinox.com