An International Student’s Response to Goucher

Article by: Elizabeth Bobo 

Despite being separated from her family by more than 7,000 miles, international student Nabiya Imran has found a new home in the United States thanks to her adviser and Goucher’s welcoming and inclusive community. 

Before coming to the U.S., Nabiya studied international relations at the National Defense University in Islamabad, Pakistan. After studying there for two years, she decided to apply to the UGRAD program which offers a cultural and academic exchange to 100 students to study in the U.S. After going through the selection process, the students are placed at a college, based on factors such as their field of study and whether or not they have family near or in the area. 

“I honestly had no idea where I was going to be placed, but I was just hoping for anything but the Midwest,” said Nabiya. 

The adjustments that Nabiya had to make were nothing short of difficult. While she does continue to study international relations here at Goucher, she has realized she must adjust to the differences in the curriculum compared to what she was learning in Pakistan. 

“The biggest difference is the amount of reading that is assigned. I have never had to read this much for my classes,” said Nabiya.

Not only did she have to adjust to the differences in academics, she also needed to adjust to a new way of living. She has never lived away from her family, so living across the world , and with a roommate has proved to be difficult. However, Nabiya arrived in Maryland at the beginning of January and was able to participate in J-Term.

“Being able to be on campus earlier made the transition much easier, and gave me time to get to know my schedule, along with the campus and the area around the campus,” she said. 

Under the program, Goucher assigns each international student a host adviser, and in this case Karen Sykes, Assistant Director of the Global Education Department was assigned to Nabiya. She credits Sykes for being “one her biggest supporters here on campus.” Sykes works closely with Nabiya, and helped to set up her schedule, get connected with the Goucher community, and find events that would get her in contact with other international students. 

Regarding other resources, Nabiya  also found that the affinity spaces offered by CREI, as well as The New Student Program (run by OSE) also helped her to become acclimated to the school. 

While she is becoming accustomed to life in the U.S., she often finds herself missing her family and friends back home in Pakistan. To stay in contact and up to date on anything happening back home, Nabiya tries to call at least every other day, but this proves to be difficult because she is also dealing with the different time zones and conflicting schedules. 

“I’m sure if I was staying here for a full-year degree, it would be harder to adjust and I would miss home more. But since I am leaving in May, it’s not very hard right now,” said Nabiya.

Although her program ends in May, Nabiya does wish to return to the U.S. to complete her graduate studies. With her degree in international relations, she wants to pursue a career in sustainable development (water policy, etc.), or the national law. She believes the diversity in education that Goucher offers, more specifically the writing intensive courses, provide her with the skillset she is looking for to enter her desired field of work. 

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