Photo by Aaron Trask, Illustration by Zbigniew Sikora, Orange Media Network Archives
Each year Oregon State University welcomes a new set of students to experience the Corvallis campus for the first time. According to the Office of International Services at OSU over 4,500 of these students are from over 90 different countries.
Theivina Vasudevan, third year studying chemical engineering, was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which is almost a third of the size of Oregon, Vasudevan said.
“I felt lost in this huge campus,” Vasudevan said in an email. “I moved into a new dorm and no one had moved in yet at that time so it was lonely. I never felt so lost but I knew that feeling would go away and get better.”
Vasudevan said her parents were prepared and always dreamt for her and her siblings to go overseas to a university for a higher education.
“It motivates me knowing that they are rooting for me and hoping for the best,” Vasudevan said via email. “My family is my world.”
Second year studying civil engineering, Paul Matipwiri moved to Corvallis from Malawi, Africa last year.
“My family was very excited for me to go to school in the US,” Matipwiri said. “They wanted me to gain experience and be exposed in a different way and as their first-born son, eventually take over their construction business in Africa.”
Matipwiri was accepted to both Penn State University and OSU and had to decide on which school to attend before even moving to the states.
“After doing a lot of research and reading about the schools online I found that OSU will give me the engineering experience I wanted,” Matipwiri said.
Nuha Zarifah, second year studying accounting and sustainability was born in one of Malaysia’s 13 states, Selangor.
Her parents were anxious about her studying in another country but she was very happy to be coming to Oregon, Zarifah said.
“Corvallis is a relatively short distance to Seattle, where many of my parent’s friends are,” Zarifah said. “Our plan was to make sure that I had extensive family aid and guidance if anything goes wrong while I am here.”
Asra Noor, third year studying biochemistry and biophysics, was born in Pakistan and lived in the city of Lahore before moving to Oregon.
Noor said the first day of classes were difficult because she did not know about the structures of the classes in the US.
“It was nerve wrecking,” Noor said via email. “I didn’t even know how to use Canvas and wasn’t aware of it.”
The transition was hard coming from the capital of Malaysia, a huge city with many skyscrapers, to a small college town like Corvallis, Vasudevan said.
“It was new and scary at first. I learned to make do with what I had and started to like the life I had here,” Vasudevan said in an email. “From going to the farmer’s market or going to Avery Park to relax and enjoy the weather.”
The first morning after arriving in Corvallis Matipwiri wanted to explore and get to know the campus before classes began.
“When first walking around campus I saw people in the dorms and people sitting in front of buildings talking and all of a sudden someone said to me ‘hi how you doing?’ and that was very strange because back home a lot of people don’t do that,” Matipwiri said. “It feels great and is an amazing experience.”
Zarifah said she has found many things she loves about OSU including the trees, weather as well as the safety and convenience of campus.
“The first day of classes are almost always introductory and basic self-introduction,” Zarifah said. “Reviewing the course syllabus and what topics to be learnt throughout the term is rather exciting and terrifying.”
Matipwiri said he enjoys the teaching style of professors at OSU and how they allow their students to make connections in the class with discussions and activities.
“Back home the teachers don’t care about the students, just the money. Here the teachers have a passion and care about the class,” Matipwiri said. “The fact that they are passionate and how they let the class interact with them makes it a good experience.”
Vasudevan said the best way to make friends is to organize group study sessions with other students and introduce yourself to the people that are in your classes.
“I made my own little family here and it will be so sad to leave this wonderful campus,” Vasudevan said via email. “It has taught me so much and I have gained so many new experiences just being here at OSU.”
According to Matipwiri, to get the best experience out of OSU you must make Corvallis your home. If international students only talk to other international students there was no point in coming here, students must get out into the OSU community Matipwiri said.
“When in Rome do as the Romans do,” Matipwiri said. “If you try to live as American as possible that is the best way you can gain new experiences and meet new people, but don’t forget your home and where you came from.”