Getting to Know Russia by Coming to America

Studying in the U.S. is a unique international experience.  For a long time people have preferred studying here for a quality education, but, in my opinion, there is a lot more to be said about what makes it unique.

oiss twitter feed
Recent cultural events at MSU, as advertised on the Office of International Student Services' Twitter feed (@oiss)

What makes studying in the U.S. different compared with other countries is the level of diversity that one can find here. For a while, you feel you are on a journey around the world, mingling with different nations, and embracing integrated cultures. This international experience happens once in a lifetime.

I previously studied for a Master’s in Scotland, where I met students from India, China, the U.K., the U.S., and the Middle East. Comparably, in only my first month here in Michigan, I’ve met and became friends with students from exotic places like Mongolia, Tajikistan, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Cameroon, Ukraine and Russia (and more – here’s a list of where students at MSU come from).

I expected to learn about the American culture while I studied here.  But what was amazing to me is the fact that, suddenly, I became interested in other cultures besides the American one.

At Michigan State University, there are many cultural activities happening on a regular basis that bring international students together. Students share through these activities their cultural traditions and experiences. I’ve met some of my current friends in these activities. Others I got to know accidentally in class or in my day-to-day life.

Of the many cultures I’ve encountered here so far, the one that struck me the most was the Russian culture. It’s been the most interesting country to get to know, particularly as I’ve grown closer to my Russian friend. Surprisingly, though we just met, we strongly connected. We understood each other, despite the cultural differences, and found a lot in common in our personalities and our future dreams. And it has drawn my attention to a part of the world that I never thought to explore before.

Getting to know her has changed my perspective about the Russian people. Before meeting her, I did not know that Russians are sophisticated, sensitive and complicated people, with many rich traditions that color their lives. I’ve even decided to learn Russian as a way to bridge our cultures and further embrace the experience of learning through her. I’m keen to visit the country someday and learn more about their history and life revolution.

Since it is only my first semester, I know that there are more students to meet in different activities and classes during my journey here. Meanwhile, I can already speak a little bit of Russian and I can’t wait to see, in a year’s time, what other languages I will be interested to learn.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Roua’s name is actually Roua al-Hayki.  We’ll get it fixed on the site, but until then, my apologies to Roua!