In Fall 2011, MSU enrolled 464 international students — three percent of the student body. Other students from abroad study at the ACE Language Institute or come for short-term programs. Together, these students represent more than 70 countries and still more cultural backgrounds.
This week we highlight four students from four continents, each of whom has unique reasons for studying at MSU and a distinct story to share. For one, the engineering program alone was enough to draw him to Bozeman. Others are here for the view. But just as with American students abroad, all travel in search of an experience far away from home with an unfamiliar culture.
Oyvind Gillesberg Stensli — Norway
Stensli came from Norway to Montana as a part of a study abroad program because he wanted to live somewhere interesting, but not “where [he] would go for a vacation.” He wanted to see small town America and go to a university with a small student population.
“I’m only here for a semester,” he said, “so I wanted a small place where I could get to know everyone.”
Stensli’s favorite classes are: Montana and the West, and Indigenous Nations of Montana because he loves the idea of “studying [the place] where you study.”
Coming from Vingelen, a small town in Norway, Stensli found America to be similar to his home in many ways, but much more “provincial.” As for Bozeman itself, he said it “seems different from the rest of America.” Stensli loves Bozeman’s small town feel. “People here are nicer and happier, living in a nice place helps,” he said.
However, Stensli expressed some disappointment toward sports in America. “There’s not as much football,” he said — and he didn’t mean the kind with pads and an oblong ball.
Thrilled with Bozeman, Stensli recommends that “everyone should study abroad.” He considers it a fantastic opportunity to “learn another’s culture and even learn more about their own.” His study abroad experience here in America has given him a new perspective on himself and his studies and cracked his world open broader and wider than before.
Yehia El Newehy — Egypt
A transfer from the German University in Cairo (GSE), Egypt, Yehia went from a general engineering program to mechanical engineering at MSU. “I like to know how the world works,” he said. A specific study of mechanics was Yehia’s biggest reason for leaving his hometown of Alexandria and his studies in Cairo for Bozeman.
Besides pursuing a subject he loves, Yehia “wanted a new adventure” away from home, even though he didn’t want to go to America initially. His first choice was Manchester; as a fluent English speaker, he wanted to go to college in an English-speaking country and he knew soccer was an option there.
After applying to Canada, Bozeman and even Germany, he came to MSU because of the atmosphere and environment. When he saw pictures, he was entranced by the idea of living away from a city and out in nature.
“The people are nice, I can see the mountains and it’s much smaller than Alexandria,” he explained. “It’s 180 degrees different.”
Yehia misses his family, his friends and the seashore, but “not as much as [he] thought” he would. He had doubts about travelling abroad, but Bozeman has provided him the chance to meet lots of interesting people and have excellent new experiences both in and out of the classroom.
“Being here has been an eye opener to the rest of the world and different cultures,” he said. “The society and the atmosphere here are more soothing, and the college is just as fast.”
Anderson Ferrer — Venezuela
Ferrer is fluent in Spanish, French, English, and is currently taking German classes. A Venezuelan majoring in education with a minor in modern languages, he is thrilled to be here in Bozeman.
His favorite class this semester is Cultural Dimensions of International Business, he said, explaining that it is “dynamic and really directed to and useful for international students.”
While discussing the numerous articles he’s been reading and “shocking” amount of papers, he said, “I haven’t read this many articles in my life!” He continued, “But I do love the way this university works. It’s so organized.”
Ferrer was chosen by a program at the University of Zulia in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela and the U.S. Department of State — it is a rare and privileged honor for him to study here at MSU. He seeks to one day work as a translator for the government. Learning English better and taking classes at an American university are the first steps to conquering this goal.
Ferrer plans to be in Bozeman until May. He is currently looking into another program in France for the next academic year to further his degree in translation studies.
Jong Yun Kim — South Korea
Jong Yun Kim first came to Montana this July. He is a student at the Associates in Cultural Exchange (A.C.E.) Language Institute here at MSU. As his uncle is a past MSU student, he always knew he wanted to study here in Bozeman.
While his last few months in America have been “just wonderful” and exactly what he expected, Kim did point out one major difference between Koreans and Americans. “Korean people try to be very polite,” Kim said. “Americans are very free. This was surprising to me.”
Kim intends to pursue a master’s degree in engineering from his university in Hoseo, South Korea. In order to achieve his goal, he knows that learning English is vital to his academic success. Kim took some English language classes in South Korea and is now feeling more confident speaking English in the U.S. He stated, “I was nervous and anxious when I spoke English in Korea, but now, it’s getting better.”
Kim will be living in Bozeman until July 2013. While here, he is excited to see snow for the first time.
Kim believes “International students are not strangers. We just want American friends.”