A Semester Abroad through International Students’ Eyes

Written by Waqar Alshorman, Si Thu Phyo, and Misbah Qureshi


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  • Si Thu Phyo smiles, wearing his Longyi, a traditional clothing item from his country, in the middle of the UCM campus.

  • Waqar Alshorman poses with the Jordanian flag, the flag of her home country, in front of the UCM Administration Building.

  • Misbah Qureshi poses with the flag of Pakistan, her home country, outside the Student Recreation and Wellness Center on campus.

Waqar Alshorman 

I’m Waqar, an international student at the University of Central Missouri from Jordan, studying industrial engineering. First, I want to give a little glimpse of my beautiful country.

  Jordan is an Arab country located in Western Asia with the capital of Amman. There are spectacular places to find around Jordan, from the beautiful green mountains in Irbid and Ajloun, to the magical desert in Wadi Rum, to the blue sea in Aqaba and the Dead Sea. There are also many historical places. It is the best country to visit with friends, family or even alone, since it is one of the safest countries in the area. 

  Food is a very important aspect of Jordanian culture. It is commonly used by Jordanians to express their hospitality and generosity. Jordanians serve family, friends and guests with great pride in their homes. A Jordanian invitation means that one is expected to bring nothing and eat everything! At UCM, the food has been a memorable experience. My first experience with food in America was crab legs with butter – it was the best! Dining hall food has been a little bit of a challenge because of some dietary restrictions, and the vegetarian options were somewhat limited. However, salad and pizza are always a good choice, and it’s even better when eating with my friends. 

  The people I’ve been able to meet during my time here have been really sweet and supportive. The international student organization put on some great events during the semester to help me and my friends experience more cultures, try new things and meet more people on campus.


Si Thu:

  “Mingalarbar!” That means hello in Burmese. I am Si Thu, a student from Myanmar, which is a Southeast Asian nNation of more than one hundred ethnic groups, bordering China, India, Bangladesh, Laos and Thailand. 

  In the picture, I am wearing Longyi, Myanmar’s unique cultural attire. In Myanmar, Burmese men wear Longyi with plain, checked or striped patterns. Longyi can be worn upside down and inside out — whichever way a person prefers to wear it. Longyi is also the uniform for students from middle school to university. While some kids and adults prefer to wear modern western clothing, a lot of students still happily wear Longyi to school every day. 

  As an international student who came from a developing country, it was challenging to adapt in a new environment of learning. The biggest culture shock I experienced in the United States was trying new food. 

  On the other hand, studying abroad at UCM helped me broaden my horizons. I have had the chance to experience the lifestyle of a student in an American institution and have had an amazing experience making amazing memories that will forever live in my heart. 


Misbah Qureshi: 

  It almost feels like it was only yesterday that I was alone on a plane, unsure of what to expect but looking forward to what the future held for me. Now, I’m returning home with a lot of memories and stories to tell. Now that I’m writing about my experience as a one-semester exchange student at UCM, I’m not sure where to begin. Being away from family may appear to be a challenge, but I haven’t felt homesick because I have had friends who checked in on me.

  The people I met, the friends I made and the experiences I had have all become important parts of my life. As an exchange student, I am only here for one semester, and that semester is all about dividing my heart into several small pieces and sending them to every corner of the globe in the hopes that they will all meet again one day. It is strange how we are selected for a purpose and brought together, then in a glance we are scattered and have to fulfill that purpose in our own ways.

  My advice to international students considering UCM for their education is to be focused on your studies while also remembering to have fun. Connect with others, volunteer in the community, have a social life and explore all of the resources. Maybe find something related to personal passions, be it fashion, science or music. For example, my major was software engineering, so I was given a chance to attend some really amazing workshops and seminars regarding my field of study. Connecting with people, listening to their experience and their stories really help build personality, because at the end of the day, that’s the only part of life that’s going to be remembered forever, so make it memorable.