World Learning is an organization that works with over 100 countries across the globe to improve education and strengthen cultural connections across continents. One section of the organization sponsors students to study abroad in foreign countries, which is assigned after a long and rigorous application process.
Three students were accepted into the program, which arrived at Keene State College (KSC) in January, to spend a semester of their undergraduate abroad in the United States.
Rehan Karim, a junior at Habib University, ventured outside of his home country in Pakistan for the very first time to study at KSC this semester.
Karim was informed just one month before the beginning of the semester where he would be studying abroad, but he was excited to travel, nonetheless.
“I wanted to learn more about the international culture, and I’ve always loved the idea of traveling to new places and meeting new people,” Karim said.
Karim is using his time at KSC to further his filmmaking degree and get a unique practice that wouldn’t be available to him in Pakistan.
“Filmmaking is something is very popular [in America], so the amount of experience I can get here is so much more than I can get back home,” Karim said.
In addition to his undergraduate experience, Karim added that he wanted to see more of the world, while considering graduate school as well.
“My biggest regret was not applying sooner,” Karim said, adding that he got so much out of his brief time studying abroad in America.
Omar Awwad, a student from Egypt in his fourth year of college, said that the first time he heard about KSC was when he was told that he would be studying abroad here.
Awwad attends Cairo University in Egypt, which has an undergraduate enrollment of about 280,000 students – a stark contrast to KSC’s 5,000 undergraduate students.
The smaller student population at KSC allows for a more personal relationship with the professors, Awwad noted.
He added that the relationship students have with professors is very different in America than it is in Egypt.
“Here, you can call a professor by their first name [no matter their age],” Awwad said. “In Egypt, we even address the [Teacher’s Assistants] professionally.”
Getting to learn about subjects not necessarily related to his major was one of the most appealing features of KSC, Awwad said.
Awwad explained, “My major in Egypt is journalism, but here in America, I’m studying filmmaking and American studies [as well as journalism].”
Awwad said that in coming to America, he was most worried about how others would see him, as he comes from the Middle East and was born Muslim. The response he received however, was overwhelmingly positive.
“Now that I’m here I don’t want to leave,” Awwad said.
Awwad said that his time in America was full of some experiences that he will never forget.
“I did a lot of things for the first time,” Awwad said, including meeting new people from different backgrounds, and seeing snow for the very first time.
Iryna Zavadskaya from Belarus is in her fourth year of undergraduate study. Typically, in Belarus, undergraduate degrees take five years to complete.
This is Zavadskaya’s second time visiting America with a study abroad program, which she highly recommends, “It’s a good opportunity to get a different perspective.”
Zavadskaya said that one of the biggest differences between American school and school in Belarus is the workload and requirements.
“We take so many more credits each semester [in Belarus],” Zavadskaya said. “But the courses there are less strict and demanding than they are [at KSC].”
For comparison, Zavadskaya is taking four classes this semester at KSC, while in Belarus she would be enrolled in about twelve.
“I would probably spend the same amount of time studying,” Zavadskaya said of the workload in American college and college in Belarus. “It was most difficult to adjust to stricter requirements.”
Despite the workload, Zavadskaya said that she loved her classes at KSC. “Here I could choose [the classes I would be taking],” whereas there is a much less flexible curriculum in Belarus.
“I also really like the campus,” Zavadskaya said. “Especially the fact that there is a campus. [Back home] there is a university building [in the city] and a few dorms, but they’re all far away from each other.”
Zavadskaya said that she is thankful for the opportunity to study abroad and expand her horizons professionally as well as culturally.
Jill Giambruno can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org