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A day in the life of an international student

Dealing with American roommates and missing home cooking were among the subjects three international students touched on as they discussed a program new to NCC.

Speaking at a press conference Oct. 29 in Communications Hall were Munira Shah of Pakistan, who’s studying Early Childhood Development; Rashid Adam of Ghana, Mechanical Engineering; and Magdalena Marbun of Indonesia, Curriculum and Child Development.

They are among the 16 students at NCC through the U.S Department of State’s 2016-2017 Community College Initiative program, which is overseen at the college by Heath Mensher.

The program, held at 14 community colleges across 11 states, enables students from many countries to stay on campus for a year. The goal is to provide students with quality education study, helping to strengthen technical skills, leadership capabilities, and English language proficiency.

Being paired with American roommates is part of the learning experience.

“One challenge of living with an American roommate is we have such a different culture background, it’s hard for me to adjust to their habits in the room,” Marbun told students from NCC’s News Writing course.

“One time,” Marbun said, “my roommate brought her boyfriend into the room and I said, ‘Oh, my gosh, what is happening here’ because I am quite a religious person, so I prayed to God several times so it won’t happen again.”

Adam said his roommate is black like himself. “Even though he does some things that I don’t do, I get to learn new things from him.”

Shah said she had to make some adjustments. “Inside the A/C is too high, so I have to wear all the time my sweatshirts.”

Besides challenging academic schedules in their chosen fields, CCI students must complete 75 hours of professional internships and 120 hours of volunteering during the school year.

The students also get a chance to travel off campus. They cited a movie theater, mall, Walmart, New York and Philadelphia as among the places they’ve visited so far.

Although they said they are having fun in the U.S, the students admitted that they sometimes missed home.

“I miss my language, my family and my friends,” Adam said.

Shah, who lives in a rural area of Pakistan, said, “I miss food from home, I miss going places. Here you have to depend on (the provided) transportation; in Pakistan you are given cars and you can go anywhere you want.”

Said Marbun: “I miss food from home, speaking Bahasa, and my parents.”

Participants return home, after completing the program, with a deeper understanding of U.S culture and new skills to help them contribute to economic growth and development. They also hope to counter misconceptions about the U.S. back home, they said.

CCI is helping U.S community colleges to internationalize their campuses. The program has hosted more than 2,600 participants from 20 countries since 2007.

According to one estimate, less than 2 percent of U.S community college students will gain 21st-century international experience and workforce skills through study abroad. Contact with CCI students could build a cultural bridge.

The press conference was covered by students from NCC’s Radio/TV program.