Friday, February 1, 2013

SMU students from Saudi Arabia experience cultural differences

By Allison Christensen
Cardinal Staff

Moving to college is typically a big step for everybody, especially if you are coming to Minnesota from Saudi Arabia. This is exactly what Mohammed Hadi and Anas Almowallad, two English as a Second Language (ESL) students did.  

Most people would agree that moving to college, usually hours from home, with new people and more responsibilities can be a stressful rite of passage. Imagine moving halfway across the world to go to college! Both students chose to come to the United States because of the high quality education and the opportunities that would arise in Saudi Arabia for English speakers.

Besides the language barrier, there were many other cultural differences that Hadi and Almowallad had to adjust to when they arrived in America. 

“Women can drive in the United States, but not in Saudi Arabia,” said Almowallad. “In Saudi Arabia, all people are Muslims; but, in the United States, there are many different religions.” 

Almowallad said another difference is that alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia, but not in the U.S.

“I enjoy having many friends from many countries. I also like seeing the change of seasons, especially winter,” said Hadi. “I have never seen snow before and in Saudi Arabia we don’t notice the leaves change color in the fall as much as we notice it here in the United States.”

Learning a second language has its pros and cons. “I like the way that the teachers here use technology to teach and the length of classes,” said Almowallad. 

Hadi said, “I don’t like getting a lot of homework, but I like the teachers and students here; they are friendly.”  

Almowallad and Hadi agree that studying in America has been a great experience thus far. 

Almowallad said, “There is nothing I hate about St. Mary’s. I can’t say if there is a specific experience that is my favorite, but the most obvious one is that everybody around the campus wants to help me learn the English language.”

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