FDU’s international students address these and other questions with a glimpse of their world — and ours.

On Americans: People kept asking me “Do you have the Internet at home?” They had never been exposed to my culture.

On Working on Campus: When I first came, here I noticed other people paying their own bills all the time, and it made me feel like I wasn’t independent enough. It motivated me to get a job on campus at student life.

On the Food: A major adjustment to campus life for me was the food, since I am a vegetarian. The selection here has improved vastly over the past few years with far more vegetarian variety offered in the cafeteria.

On Teamwork: I liked working in a team environment for the last three years. It has helped to shape my personality and motivated me. If you want to see change, you have to be the change.

On FDU’s International Student Association (ISA): One of the main reasons I enjoy being president of the ISA is that I get to learn a lot about the cultures of countries like Romania, Nepal and Bulgaria, through presentations at the general meetings. We go on fun trips, like ice skating and skiing, and we do community service, like co-sponsoring a jazz concert with Petrocelli College to raise funds for tsunami relief. And, the ISA was chosen Organization of the Year for 2004–05.

On Life After FDU: I want to experience how business works here in the United States. I think that will benefit me in my career.

Why FDU? My father, who is originally from the Ivory Coast, lives in Hackensack now, and he recommended that I come to the United States and study at Fairleigh Dickinson.

On Visas: I had to go for three visa interviews. They thought the tuition would be too expensive for me. My father had to pay my tuition before they would issue the visa.

On Coming to the United States: I had never traveled outside of Africa before. Coming to FDU from JFK [International Airport], everything looked so man-made. There were no trees or anything along the way.

On FDU’s ISA: Through the ISA, I met a lot of people who were here for the first time too — people I could relate to and talk to.

On the Office of International Student Services: I work at International Student Services all year round, including summers. There I have made friends from all over the globe, including Trinidad, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Nigeria.

On Global Education: Global education is basically teaching people how to understand people from outside your culture and making people aware of what is going on outside their own countries. FDU is doing well in providing a global education. This campus is proof of that.

On Future Plans: I’m applying for a U.N. internship for the summer and I hope to finish my degree by May 2006. My long-term goal is to be a lawyer in the international arena. I can work here for one year after graduation, but then I would have to enroll in law school for three to four years.

On Cost: The American education is expensive even for Americans. But when you come from the Asian countries, where a dollar is like 100 rupees, it’s incredible!

On Americans: Four of my closest friends are American. I relate to them perfectly — I don’t see any difference whatsoever.

On Visas: I spent three days at the U.S. Consulate trying to get that visa! Coming from Sri Lanka they really strip everything down to see if you are coming here for what they call a “valid reason.” And I know when I go back home for the summer, I will have to go through the whole thing again, because I only get a one-year visa.

On Coming to the United States: I was overwhelmed! I don’t think it was so much culture shock as it was height shock. Everything here is so big. I came out of the airport and … WHOA!

On Future Plans: When you come from a country like Sri Lanka, you know you should take the maximum out of studying in the U.S. and then go back.

On the Other Hand: There are really limited opportunities for engineering in Sri Lanka, since its economy is largely based on business and agriculture. Therefore, I’m at a juncture … I want some work experience in the United States, but from there it’s just dot, dot, dot.

On Becoming a Resident Assistant: I am honored to have been chosen as a resident assistant during my freshman year. I am only the second freshman to have served in that capacity. With my experiences adjusting to and participating in campus life, and I am happy to able to show my residents how they too can have a memorable University life.

Why FDU? I wanted to be a computer science major and do video-game programming, but there is no computer programming major in Peru.

On Coming to America: I didn’t have much when I got here because I had to fit it all in my suitcase. I didn’t even have a pillow! My residence assistant drove me to stores to buy everything I needed.

On the College at Florham: I love the campus. They say it is kind of small for the average American college, but if it were bigger I would need a bicycle.

On Athletics: I was early arriving on campus and no one but the athletes were here. I saw the soccer team practicing and said to myself, “I’m going to ask if I can join the team.” So I did — in my hiking boots and jeans — and wound up running for two miles in my boots!

On Extracurricular Activities: I write for The Metro; I’m on the executive board of the Role Playing Gamers Society; and I’m in the Latin American Student Organization.

On Future Plans: Computer science, especially video game design, would lead me to work in a First-World country. Just in case I want to return to Peru, I’m double-majoring with mathematics so I can teach there.

Why FDU? Through my university back in Germany, FHDW – Fachhochschule der Wirtschaft, I heard about a one-year MBA program in global management at FDU. I had studied IT management and wanted to focus more on the business side, since I didn’t want to be a programmer. With the opportunity to study abroad, it was basically the perfect choice.

On International Student Services: They provided all kinds of activities for us, even trips to Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Broadway.

On Adjusting to Campus Life: I thought it was easy — just the things that everyone has to adjust to when going to school. It didn’t take very long to find people to talk to and share experiences with.

On Going Home: I saw this program as an opportunity to study abroad and go back to my own country, taking this experience with me as part of my special package to get a good position.

On Studying Abroad: Studying away from your home country makes you more open to the whole world. That’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience — to be more flexible.

Why FDU? My father is a friend of Louis Padulo, BS’59 (T), a former University trustee who took me to visit both FDU campuses. Heather Augar [BA’97 (M), MA’02 (M) and associate director of international and graduate admissions] is a super-recruiter! She was always in contact and quick to respond to my questions. By the time she came to Tokyo, I felt I knew her already.

On Independence: I like that I can have more interaction with my friends than in high school. I make my own schedule, and there is no one there to help me, so I have to do it for myself.

On Americans: It’s amazing how similar the Japanese and Americans are!

On Coming to the United States: I had in the back of my mind the American teenage movies I had seen and television shows like “ER.” In reality, the United States was quite different than I expected.

On Opportunity: No matter what you want to be, in America, you really have every opportunity. In Romania, that is not true. We are still developing after overcoming Communist rule 15 years ago, but we are gaining a lot more opportunities.

On Her Background: My high school, Mihai Viteazul National College, emphasized the English language in its curriculum. I even studied under an American professor who was teaching in Romania through the Fulbright program, and we still keep in touch.

On Adjusting to Campus Life: I was used to eating dinner at 8 or 9 p.m., but now the cafeteria closes at 6:30 p.m.

On Diwali, the Dance Celebration Sponsored by FDU’s Indian Cultural Experience: I studied dance for many years before coming here. When my friend Mansi asked me to participate in Diwali, I jumped at the chance. I learned a lot about Indian culture, what Diwali means, about their movies, their clothing, their food …

On Global Education: A global education is being open-minded to other cultures. On campus you have news from all around the world in various places. That’s great because if you see something that interests you, you can just pick it up.

Why FDU?: When I met Heather Augar, it was amazing! She is an excellent ambassador for FDU. My mother was so taken by Heather’s helpfulness that she wanted me to come to FDU too. I wanted to come to Madison, but when my I-20 came it said Teaneck. Two weeks before my visa came through Heather had my I-20 changed.

On Coming to the United States: When I came here it was the first time I had complete freedom. That took some getting used to. I like the independence. I make my own decisions; some might be wrong, but I have that freedom.

On the Tsunami: I was there. We were really badly hit. Out of 25 districts, 18 were hit badly. My father’s hometown was completely wiped off the map and all his relatives died. We are in an ongoing civil war. I hope that if anything good comes from the tsunami it should be that we could come under one flag and really unite.

On the Future: I think I want to teach, to become a professor. My mother is a teacher. I think it’s a noble profession. I’d like to stay in the states, but at the same time I would like to bring my knowledge back to Sri Lanka and teach there.

Why U.S.A.? My desire to study in the United States is just a few years younger than myself. I grew up with “Sesame Street,” “The Electric Company” and “Square One” on television.

On Adjusting to the United States: The most difficult thing to adjust to was how beautiful and seemingly safe the campus is. I have lived in Colombo most of my life, and from as far back as I can remember Colombo was targeted with bombings and the violence of civil unrest. I don’t think I’ve adjusted to not being alert all the time.

On Lessons Learned: When I came here, I stereotyped Americans just as I was stereotyped as an nonresident alien. I have come to learn that stereotyping closes the mind off to the truth.

On Life After Graduation: I had given it a great deal of thought, but I didn’t realize until recently that I can do anything and be content, as long as I am helping others.

From Far and Wide | Vancouver Branch Campus
Diary of a Super-Recruiter


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©Copyright 2005 Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved.

For a print copy of FDU Magazine, featuring this and other stories, contact Rebecca Maxon, editor,
201-692-7024 or maxon@fdu.edu.