4/22/16 – This guest blog post is written by Maurice Kigada, a student in the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program at Colorado State University. Maurice is from Nairobi, Kenya, and shares his experiences being an international student in Colorado.
When I got my acceptance letter to join CSU, I had mixed reactions; I was happy for the wonderful opportunity to get an American Degree and constantly kept thinking of the many opportunities that it would create for me. On the other hand, I was nervous of the fact that I would be 8800 miles away from home and I had very few friends and acquaintances who lived in here. Nonetheless, being an international student has helped me realize a few things:
- It is okay to be different: Being a black guy in a city that is predominantly white I always stand out. Whether it is at the mall, in the library or in the local coffee shop, I have learned to appreciate that I am different and that there is nothing wrong with that.
- Having an accent simply means I can speak another language: At first I tried to hide my accent thinking that it would further alienate me. But with time I came to embrace the fact that my accent means English is not my first language. I even started being confident when I met people who said that they loved my accent.
- Identifying with both international and local students: While I felt the need to identify with fellow international students since they would understand how it feels to leave their home, I had to learn that the only way to fully live and enjoy the American culture is to relate with Americans.
- My way is not always the right way: Having been brought up in a reserved culture, we had our way of doing things. And coming here helped me know that people from different cultures use different methods of solving a problem.
- Americans love details: Back home, my personal life was personal. I didn’t have to share with anyone about it. Here, I have to remove the tag “personal” and just call it life. Sharing about life is the way of living here and knowing that everyone is genuinely concerned about me both as a student and as a person makes me share everything about my life.
While I may not be able to say all that I have learned and encountered as an international student, one thing that I know for sure is every day is a learning experience – both in and out of class. I know that I came here to study and I am fully focused on getting my degree. However, I also plan to enjoy the process since I know when I get to the age of 90, these are the memories that will be lingering on my head.