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International Spotlight

October 4, 2013

Sam Schmitz / The Courier - Syrian student, Mohnanad Ahmad, reflects on being at MC.

Costa Rica, Syria and India students interviewed

After a month of living in the United States, the international students at Monmouth College have learned to adjust to their new ways of life. Discussing the arising problems in Syria, punctuality differences and country music, each international student has made their time in America a learning experience for themselves, their peers and their professors.

The Courier had the chance to speak with three international students: Daniella Blandon, a senior English major from Costa Rica who is studying at MC for one semester; Syrian native Mohnanad Ahmad, a chemistry student who will be at MC for four years; and freshman Sujith Santhosh from India who is studying computer science and music.

Q: How did you end up in America?
Daniella: I’m studying English so that’s the main reason I wanted to come here and I’ve always wanted to study abroad.
Mohnanad: Actually that started when I heard of an association offering scholarships for Syrian students.

Q: What was living in your country like?
Sujith: I live in a village. We have patty fields, rice. It’s the main cultivation that we have over there. You get to see the greenery when you walk around. There is a lot coconut trees everywhere.

Q: What was your impression of America before getting here?
D: Usually the idea is when you hear the United States that it’s a country where everything is big and industrialized.
M: America is as dream, because if you ask anyone outside of America where they want to study, they will tell you America, because getting a degree from here will open the future for you.
S: We have stereotypes about different cultures, specifically the American culture. All my relatives are like “do you really want to go there? We have been hearing a lot of stories.” When I came over here I just did not see those stereotypes. Everyone has emotions. Everyone is human.

Q: What is your opinion on US and Syria relations?
M: Of course the things happening in Syria is making news. People all over the world are talking about Syria, trying to find a solution. But it’s complicated much more than we expected. I have a fluctuating opinion, because I feel like the US strike plan on Syria is something I endure and sometimes I don’t, because I’m afraid of the consequences if they strike Syria. After three years not a single solution has been found for that. I just wish that the things there go alright so we can go back one day and have the normal life we used to have.

Q: How is Monmouth helping you achieve your academic goals?
D: I chose English because it is going to be helpful in anything I decide to do. I want to be a literature professor at some point.
M: This degree will be known worldwide for its excellence, so my expectation for the future is having a strong base to apply to all medical schools worldwide.
S: I think I want to start a high school that values something more than economics.

Q: What’s something you’re having a hard time adjusting to?
D: Punctuality. In Costa Rica and in most Central American countries, punctuality is not so important.
S: I have so much free time here. In India, I had class from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. so in order to use up my free time, I’m involved in a lot.

Q: How is the culture different here?
D: I think our culture is not that different. We have a lot of influence from the United States.
S: The culture is different. It’s not that open. No one says hi to anyone else. If you say hi its going to look rude. That’s kind of interesting here you say hi to almost everyone you see. Everyone smiles.

Stevie Croisant

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