International students experience Allegheny living for first time

This year is special for Allegheny College international students. Due to COVID-19, some of them were not able to live on campus and experience life in a different country. While the pandemic is not over, most international students have been vaccinated and were allowed to travel to the USA to study.

Omar Shriem, ’24, is one such student.

“The best thing about Allegheny is people,” Shriem said. “People generally are really nice and understanding. Allegheny makes me feel like home because there is the sense of a family in a community — we take care of each other and we all want to make sure that everyone is happy, healthy and safe. The education here is also very liberal and democratic because it takes people’s ideas and tries to make them into one.”

Of course, being an international student can be hard. Sometimes it is stressful because of the new community, feeling of loneliness and different culture. But as Shriem mentioned, Allegheny college makes you feel like you are a part of something huge and important.

“I have a culture shock because I`m conservative and here people are liberal,” Omar said.

There are 195 countries on the map, each of which has its own culture, tradition, laws and mentality. While the USA features opinions and individual freedom, citizens in other countries do not necessarily share the same freedoms to wear whatever they want, do whatever they want or be whoever they want.

“The best thing about the USA is the value of freedom and independence on an individual level,” Ray Colabawalla, ’25, said. “The importance of individuality is something I appreciate.”

Danielle Savellano, ’25, explained that freedom means different things to different people.

“I feel like here everyone’s definitely more confident in terms of their body, style, personality and beliefs,” Savellano said.

“One difference is the education,” Jaclyn Pham, ’25 said. “I really love our classes here, our discussions. It is fun and worth learning. The U.S. education system focuses on bringing the best to its students and encourages them to pursue what they really like.”

The sentiment was echoed by Nicole Bremer, ’25.

“I’m so happy to be here and actually have the opportunity to study with better education,” Bremer said.

Last but not least is the topic of homesickness. Unfortunately, changing the community, the environment, circumstances and even one’s own bedroom is usually hard and even exhausting.

“Moving to another place made me feel nervous, anxious, excited and overwhelmed,” said Katherine Schott, ’25. “But I`ve had a feeling of a sense of familiarity — the USA is my second home, so Allegheny naturally became a part of that.”