Nervous thoughts were going through first-year foreign exchange student Subharaj Pal’s mind as he pictured what his life might be like in the United States. What kind of people would be there? What conditions would society be like?
Pal said it was by realizing all people are the same that helped ease his nerves from leaving Tripera, India and coming to Vermillion, South Dakota.
“The lifestyle is different, the basic things are the same,” Pal said.
USD offers many programs to help foreign exchange students adapt to life in the United States as recruitment options work. USD also offers aid to students looking to study abroad as well.
Tomáš Kameník a graduate assistant at the International Office, said the International Club is one resource international students have available to help them adjust to life in the United States.
“(The International Club tries to) promote domestic students and international students together,” Kameník said. “International students come here and they try to experience this culture and it’s so hard for them outside of their international group if they don’t know any domestic students. It gets them connected, which is important.”
Foreign exchange student Vladimir Budovkin said having a connection with domestic students is important for international students:
“I’ve learned something from Americans, the way they are independent,” Budovkin said. “In Russia, we tend to rely more on our family and our views are formed and shaped by our family. Here you feel more independent and people support you whatever you are and you feel more freedom.”
Kameník also said USD recruits international students from all over the world be sending recruiters to areas in-person.
“We have just had a recruiter who just went to Nepal and she was trying to recruit (foreign exchange students in) Nepal, India and Shelanka,” Kameník said. “We try and attract more students. These are generally degree seeking, so we go to different fairs where we promote the University of South Dakota and we have more students from those countries.”
Subharaj Pal also explained how he heard about USD: the internet, which is another recruitment tool used to attract foreign exchange students.
“… I came (across USD and it was) very cheap and their (computer science program) is well-known,” Pal said. “I got into other schools such as Vanderbilt and Stoney Brooke and they were expensive. USD was the better option; I could find financial aid here.”
The experience of getting accepted and coming to USD was a huge step for Pal.
Pal said the first time he saw Old Main was a memorable experience.
“When I got in Old Main, I felt like it would break — it’s so old,” Pal said. “When I was walking it was making sounds and (I noticed) the smell.”
Foreign exchange students are recruited to USD based on a recruitment officer who travels to foreign countries and USD also recruits international students on the internet.
Pal said because of his experience, he recommends all USD students should try studying abroad.
“Be ready to get culture shock. Get ready to be in a different part of the world and they must be physiologically prepared for it,” Pal said. “Most people are used to the American way of living and kind of know (about the country they are visiting) so they don’t get more shocked.”