Scroll Top

First year international students adjust to life on the Hill

Screen Shot 2022-11-04 at 2.13.09 PM

The Messenger had the opportunity to sit down and talk with two international students – Roaya Ghuneim ’26, and Zumratmo Zarifkhonova ’26. They shared with us many aspects of how their transition into college is going so far.

Messenger: Roaya and Zuma, where is home for you?

Roaya: I was born in Lebanon and I grew up in Palestine.

Zuma: I am from Tajikistan.

Messenger: What has been the easiest aspect of your transition to college?

Roaya: It was really easy to make the transition to college due to the specialized treatment thatwe received when we got on campus. We all got on campus a few days before the rest of thestudents and we were able to meet so many people.

Zuma: It has been easy for me to make friends, and academics have been fairly easy. I feel like I was well prepared for coming to college because I went to boarding school.

Messenger: What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered during your time at St Olaf?

Roaya: The biggest challenge I have had is making friends with students who are from the United States. They told us about the distance that there might be between international and domestic students, but it was still a shock to me.

Zuma: It has been a challenge adjusting to the food. American food is very different from what I am used to. It has also been hard knowing that it is going to get cold and then hearing how long the cold is going to last. I am not used to it being really cold!

Messenger: What has been the biggest culture shock that you have experienced since moving to the United States?

Roaya: Taxes! Why do they take so much money from us? This is not something I have ever seen before. It is also weird how much it costs to get healthcare. In my country it has always been free.

Zuma: The large quantities of meat that people eat as well as the amount of sugar people have. I have never seen anything like it before.

Messenger: What is one piece of advice you would give to future international oles?

Roaya:  Take advantage of all of your resources on campus that are there for international students.

Zuma: Be patient with yourself. Everyone transitions at a different speed.