The Honors Program at Minnesota State University, Mankato encourages students to study abroad and develop intercultural relationships in order to fulfill their global citizenship competency. Naturally, we are welcoming to international students who visit Minnesota State, and invite a number of them to join our Program during their stay. Three of these students who are currently with us have agreed to share their experiences.
Victoria Camasmie, ’18
(Business Management and Marketing; Brazil)
I am enjoying my second semester here at Minnesota State and I have been having an amazing experience so far. Being far away from home can be hard sometimes, but I think feeling homesick is a very common feeling among all students, especially for those who are visiting from other countries. I believe international students bond with each other because we are all going through this same situation. One of the things I miss the most about Brazilian culture is our food. I also miss the hot weather back home. I knew Mankato was cold, but I did not know it was so windy! It is difficult to come to a new place where the culture is so different from the one you grew up in, but living abroad and being able to speak another language is an experience that only one who goes through it knows how it feels. The world is so big and filled with different cultures! I want to know as many cultures as I possibly can. Intercultural exchange opens up my mind and gives me the opportunity to understand people in a better way. Being a member of the Honors Program, participating in extracurricular activities, and doing volunteer work has given me the chance to engage with the community and meet new people. I love living in Mankato. However, it is just the beginning of my journey into the world.
Prathibha Mangedarage, ’17 (Biology; Sri Lanka)
Coming to MSU from a diverse country like Sri Lanka which is home to many religions, ethnicities and languages, meant that diversity was not something new to me. I was pleasantly surprised when I got the opportunity to meet students from all over the world here in Mankato. I came to the US hoping to get a world-class education that I need to pursue a career in the field of Biomedical Sciences. But, my experience here has been much more than just studying to obtain a degree. My college career in the US has completely changed who I am and the way I see the world. The diversity in the United States has opened doors for me to explore various cultures and has helped me become a more culturally competent individual. As an international student, I also get to represent my country and culturally contribute to the community by sharing my culture with others. It is always a pleasant experience when I get the opportunity to share my views and values. My experience in the United States has taught me the importance of understanding people’s different beliefs and being respectful of them. The relationships I have made in the US have helped me to learn about American culture, break misconceptions and stereotypes, and have a better understanding of diversity. Through my experiences abroad I am becoming a better educated and well-rounded individual. I am able to think more critically and broadly about world views that I would not have elsewhere.
Sarah Snoussi, ’18 (Electrical Engineering; Tunisia)
Coming to the United States was a dream coming true for me. I have always dreamed about coming to the States but never thought it would happen this soon in my life. I had been desperate, separated from my family, studying at a university in my home country with different expectations. The faculty abused my energy; I was like a robot studying day and night, Monday to Saturday, no weekends or vacations, dreaming I would make it to the next year. To be blunt, my dreams and expectations about higher education had vanished into old broken walls of disappointments and my deadly routine. When I first came to the United States, I had a strange feeling that I never experienced before, an amazement that took over me. I would wake up at 6 a.m. every day because I wanted to use every second of the day to enjoy and discover every corner of this little town called Mankato. I used to walk around campus with my camera taking pictures of everything, random things. I looked for things that reminded me I wasn’t at home anymore, not in Tunisia, that I was somewhere in my dream. It was an incredible feeling to enjoy everything, every little detail. I was never sad, never annoyed, and always thankful for being here in my dream. Studying no longer became a problem for me. It was a pleasure, something I did for fun. Back home I felt like the professors were so distant and strong. I was scared to negotiate with them and felt forced to simply do what I was told. At Minnesota State Mankato, it is different. Students are the center of attention, and everything revolves around them. The question is no longer “how can we torture the students,” but rather “how can we make them have the best experience and provide them with the best education?” I know this is hard to believe for a lot of Americans. I truly appreciate being here in the United States, even as an exchange student. Living this experience has created another dream inside of me. Maybe one day, my study abroad to the United States will foster big changes in my home country. Maybe I can be the start, the spark of that big change.
To learn more about studying at Minnesota Sate as an international student, please visit our University’s International Student and Scholar Services web page.
To learn more about the Honors Program or apply, please visit our Program’s web page.