College is a fresh start and a new beginning for most, but for some international students at MSU it can feel like a whole new world.
Along with learning a new language, culture and sometimes moving across the globe, international students face a journey more difficult than most in getting their start at college.
Genglin Li, economics freshman from Shenyang in Liaoning, China, traveled 6,350 miles by plane to East Lansing to begin his college experience, according to distancecalculator.net. Li had visited MSU once before coming to school and said that he chose MSU in part due to the fact that he has a friend who attends MSU.
Meeting his roommates is what Li said he is most excited for in addition to putting the “awful” day of traveling behind him.
Kaiyue Zhao, a media and information freshman from Beijing, China, chose to come to MSU due to its “big campus and many opportunities.” Zhao has been to the U.S. twice, but had never been to MSU before move-in day at Akers Hall.
“I am most excited for my new life in the USA and my university life,” Zhao said.
Zhao said East Lansing, compared to Beijing, is quieter with a better environment. “Pretty and fresh” is how Zhao described the air in East Lansing.
Naseim Omeish, a native of Benghazi, Libya, and an international relations senior, spent two years at the MSU English Learning Center and decided to stay in East Lansing as an undergraduate student. Omeish is living in an off-campus apartment this year and said her goal is to attend a football game before she graduates this spring. The senior said she noticed a number of difference between MSU and Libyan universities since arriving in East Lansing.
More majors to choose from and a much bigger and more diverse campus set MSU apart from universities in Libya, Omeish said.
“In Libya, it’s just Libyans and usually just people from the same city,” Omeish said. “Here it’s so much bigger, so many activities and events. I can’t even compare it. I feel like that doesn’t do it (MSU) justice.”
Omeish has also noticed social differences between East Lansing and Benghazi.
“We don’t party in Libya,” Omeish said.
The Libya native also said people seem to be more at ease when talking to each other in East Lansing and described East Lansing’s winter weather as “crazy.” Her mom’s food and her family are what Omeish said she misses the most while away from home, but said MSU has grown on her.
“I noticed that in American culture people get so attached to their university and it’s like ‘I am a Spartan forever’,” Omeish said. “We don’t have that at all in Libya, but coming here, I feel like it is starting to grow on me.”
Ellyn Tan is an interior design freshman from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She has been to America before, but move-in day at Bailey Hall was her first time at MSU and in Michigan. Tan knew she wanted to attend MSU three years ago and said she is looking forward to meeting different kinds of people at MSU.
“There are different kinds of people here to meet, people from different races of all over the world,” Tan said. “The culture is sort of different from Malaysia. You just get used to your own ways and cultures then notice differences.”
Interior design is Tan’s passion and the Malaysia native said she is excited to start studying. Tan is also looking forward to winter as they don’t experience cold weather in Kuala Lumpur. Ice skating, skiing and other winter sports are a few things Tan said she is excited to try at MSU, but there are a few things she will miss about home.
“First I will miss my family, second I miss the food,” Tan said. “I love Malaysian food, but I am fine with the Western food,” .
Tan left one older sister, one younger sister and younger brothers at home when she took off on her travels which lasted a total of 23 hours.
“I am very excited, very excited to be here,” Tan said. “I am glad I chose MSU. Go Spartans.”
Three years ago, England native Charlie Cox and Wales natives Gergo Pinter and Hannah Perkins knew they wanted to be a part of the exchange program their university offered, but it wasn’t until six months ago that they found out they would be attending MSU this fall.
All three students are juniors from Lancaster University in Lancaster, England, and will be living in McDonel Hall this year. Perkins and Pinter are studying physics while Cox is studying biophysics, and the three have already noticed a few differences between MSU and Lancaster University.
Class sizes are a bit smaller at MSU, the students said. At Lancaster University each class usually consists of one final exam, so preparing for multiple exams throughout the semester will be different, the three international students said.
Perkins said another big difference is sharing rooms.
“Every room is single back home,” Perkins said. Although, shared bathrooms are common at the English university.
Cox said he quickly noticed the difference in the size of campus. He described MSU’s campus as “huge” and said that the same numbers of students admitted to MSU each year match what Lancaster has in total.
“College life over here is just different than it is in the UK,” Cox said. “There are bigger events, more opportunities since we are right in the middle of campus.
However, Pinter said the hardest part about leaving was that many friends will be graduating while the students are away.
The students are looking forward to sporting events as well as the new semester at MSU.
“I feel really good and excited about being here,” Cox said. “People have been really helpful and we love it so far.”
Hussain Alibrahim knew he wanted to attend MSU since April, but his first time on campus was on move-in day. He is from Safwa City, Saudi Arabia, and is a material science freshman. Alibrahim is living in Wilson Hall this year, away from his family for the first time.
Alibrahim said he thinks classes will be difficult to start off due to the fact that he is not a native English speaker.
“I am excited and interested to see how everything goes,” Alibrahim said. “I know there will be a lot of challenges.”
Alibrahim said the weather is a lot cooler here than in Safwa City and that he believes he will adjust well to college life at MSU, which is a 15 hour flight away from his home.
“After just a few days, I think maybe MSU will end up being like home away from home,” Alibrahim said.