Three international undergrads gave Keene State College students and faculty a taste of foreign cultures while explaining their unique experiences of studying abroad.

Benajil Rai / Multimedia Director

Benajil Rai / Multimedia Director

On Wednesday, March 21, from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m the Cross-Cultural Conversation event took place in the Mountain View Room in the Student Center. Timur Bapiev, Eva Vranici, and Maham Waqar conducted thirty minute slideshow presentations.

The slideshows included key components of the student’s home country and culture.

International student, Timur Bapiev is from the Krygyz Republic.

Bapiev said he studies international relations at Manas Kyrgyz-Turkish International University. Bapiev said he enjoys learning in America because of the flexibility of the education system.

“Education here is more focused on students because teachers here try to make [classes] interesting,” he said. “It’s very liberal and you get to choose classes and add or drop it whenever you want, [there’s] a lot of freedom here.”

Eva Vranici is studying computer science at the University of New York at Tirana in Albania. She said she appreciates the geniality of the Keene atmosphere and community.

“I like [it] here because there are a lot of students who love what they do, they study a lot, there are people who are very friendly. It’s a friendly place,” she explained. She has always desired to travel to the U.S. because American culture is rooted in many other international locations. “I’ve always wanted to come to [the] U.S.… Songs, movies, technology, everything comes from [the] U.S.. So it’s a dream come true,” she added.

At the Beaconhouse National University at Lahore in Pakistan, Maham Waqar studies film and she has a passion for music.

Waqar said education in America is extremely innovative and comfortable. “Learning here, I believe, is more conceptual. Especially for our film classes, you watch films and then analyze them… it’s more conceptual and creative,” she explained.

“It’s casual, and friendly, and you feel more comfortable with the teachers and students.”

Waqar added that American films inspired and motivated her to venture to the United States. “I want[ed] to learn about the U.S. culture because I am a film major and Hollywood is the largest film industry here. What you see in Hollywood films, I wanted to experience that and I think I did to some extent,” she said.

Bapiev, Vranici and Waqar were selected and funded by the U.S. State Department, according to the Associate Director of the Global Education’s Office, Steven Spiegel. He said many international students applied to study at KSC through the U.S. State Department, but only a skilled three students were selected for the exchange program.

“[The U.S. State Department] have a very rigid acceptance standard. There were over one thousand applicants for three spots. Timur, Eva and Maham, they were highly selected because they are outstanding in their own ways,” he said.

The three students shared a host family, but they resided in Pondside 3 with roomates from the United States, Spiegel added. He said international students start off the experience nervous, but end up flourishing in the long-run. “They grow greatly, but at the same time, they make friends and relationships that last a long time,” he explained.

Spiegel said that he advises KSC students to consider studying away to increase their knowledge about international societies. “I wish there were more students who would study away because… [students] get exposed to other cultures and now is the right time to start thinking about that,” he said.

The event was sponsored by the The Global Educations Office and the Global Culture Club. Spiegel said the study away programs range from a few weeks in the summer to a whole year.

Students with a GPA 2.5 or higher are qualified for the program and can apply to study away at the Global Educations Office.

Ashley Arnold can be contacted at