International Students Come Together to Ease Transition


Photo of Nawaf Abdulaziz Alasaidan

Nawaf Abdulaziz Alasaidan, Contributing Writer

When I first came to the University of New Haven, I thought it would be easy.

However, it was hard because I couldn’t find anyone to help me with things like adjusting to classes or help even with something as simple as where to eat lunch. No one was there to help me get comfortable with new places. Leaving my country was not easy.I had no idea how to contact people of my nationality here, and that was the only way to make me feel better.

At the time, there wasn’t a Saudi student club, and that made me think I should do something to help the other Saudi students. Some other Saudi students and I decided to reach out and band together. We brought our phone numbers to the International Services Office, and said if any student is looking for other Saudi students, give them our numbers or emails.

If a student didn’t contact us, we found them and we reached out, voluntarily.

When a Saudi student first comes to the university, they must find an apartment, figure out what to eat, and how to get food. Now, they can seek the help of the Saudi Club. Both the Saudi club and the international office play an important role in a student’s transition, but the Saudi Club is more concerned with everyday life. The international student office takes care of things such as documentation.

When Abdullah Alshuaibi, a senior fire protection engineering major, came to the United States, he had to learn how to function in a new culture. Many international students forget to look at the dates on their documents. Missing a deadline can mean the difference between staying here, or going home. Sami Alasaos, a senior fire protection engineering major, and the Saudi club president said the club is helpful for assisting new students with little details like that.

Amida Richer said “I think the biggest mistake is forgetting to look at the added dates on the documents.” Making sure all documentation is up to date is vital.

Culturally, information comes via email at the university, and if a student doesn’t respond quickly, that can mean a missed deadline.
Umar Alraddadi, a freshman civil engineering major, said the Saudi Club has good leaders. This year, the club has been focusing on staying in touch with new students.

The approach to education is different here, compared to Saudia Arabia’s. Here, we have to do things like make presentations. At home, we wouldn’t do that; instead we would just study from a book. Here, you have to understand the material, not simply try to memorize.

Abdullah Alshuaibi, a senior fire protection engineering major, said that Saudi professors iare similar to American professors, though Saudi students don’t contact Saudi professors. Here, professors are more flexible and you can contact them any time. They share phone numbers and emails, and they also reach out to us. But in Saudi, things are more formal; you can’t contact anyone if you don’t have an official appointment.

Taghreed Alharbi, who is studying emergency management, said she studied in mixed classes (male and female) in Saudia Arabia, but some students haven’t when they come to the U.S., and that can be a challenge.

Sami Alasaos and Taghreed Alharbi said finding food they enjoy isn’t difficult, though they sometimes have to travel to find food from their culture. Socializing with friends in restaurants simply means they watch for halal food, or food that is acceptable for Muslims to eat.