Foreign students adjust to WKU

Nikita Moharir, Saisindhuja “Sindhu” Veeramachaneni, Divya Lella and Harika Javangula share an evening snack of aloobjjie, southern Indian fried potatoes, before working on homework. The four girls are first semester graduate students from Southern India who decided to move to the United States to seek an independent lifestyle and become more competitive in their fields. Their goal is to return to India and find a job that will support their parents as they age. “When they are old, they become like children and then it is our responsibility to take care of them,” said Moharir.

Mary Anne Andrews

Adjusting to life on campus can be difficult for freshmen, from knowing what to wear to a party to deciding whether or not to go to that class without an attendance policy.

But, international students at WKU have to adjust to more than college life — they are living in a brand new culture, language and lifestyle.

Graduate student Meha Patel is 8,050 miles away from her home country.

Patel walks around campus at night with friends when she starts to miss her cool, green country and her family.

“It clears my mind,” she said.

Patel is a healthcare administration major who wants to return to “green” Nairobi, Kenya, after graduation.

Saturday, at the Bowling Green International Festival, Patel worked a henna tattoo booth.

She brushed flowers, butterflies and her own Indian-inspired designs onto festival-goers. Patel said she learned how to do henna in Kenya.

Patel said events like the International Festival and the work of the International Student and Scholar Services are important because they bring people of different cultures together.

“You have to have respect for other cultures,” she said. “I believe you should respect all people and all beliefs.”

Sophomore Noah Rajab is about 7,380 miles from home, but wants to stay in the U.S. as long as possible.

“Coming to the first country in the world was such a dream of mine, especially coming from a non-developed country,” he said. “I was more excited than scared. I had to start from scratch and leave everything back home behind — my family, friends, girlfriend.”

Rajab keeps in touch with his family in Najran, Saudi Arabia, through phone calls and Skype.

Before transferring to WKU this fall, Rajab lived in Arkansas but chose to come to WKU because the people here are friendlier, he said.

Rajab said he was in a hurry to learn English when he came to the U.S. so he could adjust to the culture.

“I believe when you plant something good, you get something good,” he said.

Sophomore Minh Dao is around 8,700 miles from home.

Dao volunteers at WKU’s English as a Second Language Institute so that more international students can improve their English before coming to WKU, like she did.

“I’m really glad I chose WKU,” she said. “Here, professors are really helpful and nice to international students.”

In Da Nang, Vietnam, Dao said she was afraid to approach her professors for help.

“In Vietnam all we do is study, study, study,” she said. “But here I am free to get involved in organizations on campus.”

She said people at WKU have been kind to her, even giving her rides to Walmart where Dao buys groceries and $20 phone cards for a 500-minute connection to home.

Although she misses her family, the beaches and fresh seafood of home, Dao said she hopes to attend graduate school at WKU and teach communication at an American university.