First Impressions from Global UGRAD Fall 2023 Students

The Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (UGRAD) is a space for risk-takers. Many Global UGRADs had seldom travelled outside their home countries; far fewer had ever stepped foot in the United States. Nonetheless, they arrived with open minds and enthusiasm, excited to experience both the beauty and the challenges in the semester ahead. Becoming entirely immersed in a new language, environment, and culture all at once comes with its fair share of surprise and culture shock. From Alaska to Maine, and Minnesota to Texas, students have been gaining many impressions of life in the United States in their first weeks here.

Photo collage of Malak Falah exploring Detroit and Wayne State University’s campus

Every student settles into life in the United States at their own speed. Some gain their first impressions by trying to experience as much of their local community as possible. Malak Falah, from the Palestinian Territories and studying at Wayne State University, recounted that “I have been and will continue to explore locally whenever I can on my weekends and time off.  I went to downtown Detroit to look around, tried new foods and drinks, and did some activities like biking around the city. So far so good indeed.”

For many students, some of the most striking first impressions they have stem from the differences in academic instruction and course structure in the United States as compared to their home universities. Tariro Mandaza, originally from Zimbabwe and attending New England College, noted that “In the United States, classes offer more time to participate and express your own opinions. My major classes are teaching me all kinds of new subjects that we don’t have back home. I hope to take those topics and courses back to Zimbabwe with the goal of teaching others what I have learned and getting those classes added as part of the curriculum for future students.”

This semester, many of our students are studying at universities where American football occupies an important place in campus culture. This national pastime has proven to be pique the interest of many Global UGRAD students, though they are still learning the rules!

Jam Lopez enjoying football and a rainbow at the University of Wyoming

Ikri Sa’diah, from Indonesia and studying at Missouri State University, shared with World Learning, “One of the new things I did after I arrived in the United States was watch American football. On September 1st, my friends and I watched the American football match between Missouri State University and the University of Kansas. I don’t really understand the rules of American football, but I enjoyed it during the game. That was an exciting experience for me.” Jam Lopez, from the Philippines and attending the University of Wyoming, has been enjoying the natural sights of Wyoming, including this rainbow during a football game!

May our Global UGRAD students continue to take risks, learn, and grow!