In the Classroom

This fall, more than 150 Global UGRAD students are experiencing their first semester in American university classrooms. Whether it’s engaging in a new method of instruction, studying a new subject, or just learning in a new environment, UGRADs have been fully immersed in the academic component of their program.

The emphasis on class discussion and participation is a big difference between classes taught in the U.S. and those taught in many students’ home countries. Keomany Sipaseuth, a Laotian student studying at Missouri State University this semester, reflected on this difference:

“My favorite class would be Schooling in America, where it is more like a discussion class than just learning from the textbook and slides,” Sipaseuth said. “Hence, we are able to dig deep into each topic properly as well as apply new knowledge to the real situation. Moreover, studying in an American college is very interesting because most students in class are highly participative compared to Lao college. It creates a great atmosphere that encourages me to feel more comfortable speaking out my thoughts during class!”

Palestinian student Aseel Kabaraiti (far right) poses with friends from her favorite class, Oral History, at East Tennessee State University.

Other students, such as Hervinder Kaur Jaswent Singh from Malaysia, also noticed the focus on class discussion, as well as the dynamics between professors and students at her host school, Florida Gulf Coast University. “University classes are quite different here in the U.S. than they were in Malaysia for me,” Singh said. “I love how casual the classes are here, and how direct the communication is between professor and students… Theories of Human Communication is my favorite class so far! My professor allows us to speak more than her; she values our opinions so much and it is always fun to listen to everyone’s opinions.”

Panharith Sun, a student from Cambodia attending Augustana University, appreciates his American Government professor’s funny and spontaneous attitude, despite American Government being his hardest class. He writes, “Just last week, the weather was beautiful, so our professor moved our class outdoors and the entire class studied while sitting on the grass which was quite a fun experience.”

Haitian student Wesmana Jean is thankful for her professors’ willingness to help her navigate the unique challenges that come with studying complex subjects in a second language. “The first weeks of class were a little bit difficult because the teachers were speaking too fast,” Jean said. “I explained it to them and some of them allowed me to record them and listen to the lectures after classes. For the others, if I couldn’t understand I just have to make a discrete sign and they repeat it.” Jean is a business major and recently gave a presentation in her Principles of Marketing class, one of her favorite classes at Emporia State University. “I made a presentation about a great concept used by popular companies in the world (such as Starbucks and Abercrombie and Fitch), called Scent Marketing,” Jean said. “The class appreciated it and I [received] a “congratulations” from my teacher.”

Wesmana Jean (center) presents on “Scent Marketing” during her marketing class at Emporia State University.

Global UGRAD students are thriving in their classrooms this semester, taking full advantage of the variety of courses, class structures, discussions, and other academic opportunities offered at their host institutions.