Building Global Friendships: Sitora Sufijinova

My name is Sitora Sufijinova, and I am studying as a Global UGRAD student at the University of Southern Indiana. Upon my arrival to the United States, I felt as if I’d ended up in a world full of people who are different from my home country. Since I first stepped foot in an American airport, I’ve met people from all around the globe; as time went on, some of them even became my friends. This entire semester had been productive and challenging, and I have already learned some important life lessons. At first, I struggled with stressful homework and assignments and did not know how to make friends or be included. I thought making friends immediately would be easy, since I didn’t have difficulties with making friends back home. It was more difficult than I anticipated, certainly because of my hearing impairment, but also because they were speaking in a different language which made it even more complicated for me to understand them.

Now I will explain how I ended up being capable of overcoming the challenges of adjusting to the American education system and making new friends. First, the most difficult part of my challenge was dealing with my homework and getting it done before the due date, which later became a valuable experience to prepare me for the next semester. The second difficulty I had was that I did not know where to start creating my friend zone and staying in touch with other people since like-minded people were few. Gradually, I learned how to keep working and collaborating with other students – both fellow international students and American students – on campus. The main thing that helped me to make it happen was our English classes, where we mostly worked in groups. It was also a great opportunity to find like-minded people and to expand my worldview. For example, the majority of my classmates were from Panama; despite their diverse background and ethnicity we have been working together and even sharing aspects of our cultures to learn more about our roots.

Now, I have become friends with people from all over the world. Every single one of them taught me something new, either from their cultural background or in general. For this reason, I am very thankful to the Global UGRAD Program which brought me here and allowed me to connect with other people and introduce my country, Tajikistan, to them. I enjoyed introducing my background to new people, since the majority of people did not know about Tajikistan at first. For instance, I recently attended a campus event called the International Extravaganza where all students had a chance to present their country. I was honored to share about Tajikistan located and present on what it has to offer.

To sum up, my experience for this semester in the United States has been both challenging and rewarding. It has already had a great impact on me, especially on my way of seeing the world. I hope to change the world by transforming all these lessons into something positive both here and back in my home country. I am looking forward to what is awaiting me ahead for this upcoming semester.

Sitora Sufijinova, Tajikistan, University of Southern Indiana