Students from all over the world come to American universities for education and cultural exploration.
According to the Institute of International Education, American universities hosted 1,043,839 international students in 2015-16. Here are two different perspectives from international students at USD.
Differences in formality
Sudarshan Paul Rayapalli is a graduate student studying computer science. Rayapalli finished his undergrad in India, where he’s from, then studied in the United Kingdom and Florida before transferring to USD.
Rayapalli said the greatest difference between being an Indian student and an American student is the work schedule.
“In India, we have a Monday through Saturday work week, and classes run from 9 to 5 every day,” Rayapalli said.
Similar to American high school, Rayapalli said students weren’t allowed to eat in class or arrive more than a couple minutes late in India. College students also had to ask the professor to leave class in order to use the restroom.
The college environment in India is very formal, Rayapalli said.
Rayapalli said he wants to get some work experience in the U.S. then return to India.
“In terms of immigration, after I graduate I will be allowed to stay for 12 months of optional practical training,” he said. “During that period, I can look for a job. As a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) student, I can do a STEM extension and stay in the U.S. to work for a total of three years.”
Rayapalli said he believes USD is a friendly and welcoming place.
“They do whatever they can to support you and put your idea into action. Because of this, I strongly encourage international and domestic students alike to seize opportunities and get the most out of their time at USD,” he said. “My journey has been constantly changing, and changing for the better. And I owe it all to the people that I am surrounded by and the opportunities that are offered to me at USD.”
A helpful community
Saeed Dabbour, a Jordanian sophomore who came to USD after living in Saudi Arabia, said the lack of transportation in Vermillion took a lot of getting used to.
Coming from a land of Uber with cabs on every corner, Dabbour said he dislikes the fact that he’s now forced to ask for rides from his friends.
There were some social challenges for Dabbour as well, he said.
“I’ve lived in the same house since the day I was born, I went to the same school from preschool to high school, and suddenly I was dropped in a new place where I didn’t know anyone,” Dabbour said.
Everything changed when Dabbour went on a trip to Sioux Falls with the international students club, he said.
“It changed everything for me,” he said. “I started spending all my time on campus and I got to know everyone that way.”
Dabbour said involvement in campus activities is important for international students.
“Putting yourself out there is worth it,” he said.