From Saudi Arabia to Fresno

By | September 05, 2013 | Arts & Entertainment (3)
Abdullah Alfaisal (right) is a freshman at Fresno State this year, and said he hopes to complete his computer science degree.

Abdullah Alfaisal (right) is a freshman at Fresno State this year, and said he hopes to complete his computer science degree.  Photo courtesy of Abdullah Alfaisal

Fresno State is a home away from home for international students who flock to the university to receive a quality education and immerse themselves in American culture.

Abdullah Alfaisal, 23, from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, said choosing Fresno State was easy.

“I have many friends here from back home, and they told me about Fresno State, so I chose to join them,” Alfaisal said.

Not only did Alfaisal already have friends at Fresno State, he also had tremendous support from his family.

“My father gave me advice as soon as I got here,” Alfaisal said. “He said, ‘Do what you like and like what you do, be a good student and work hard to get a better life in the future.’”

Alfaisal said that is exactly what he plans to do.

As an entering freshman, Alfaisal said he plans to attend Fresno State for four years, in which time he hopes to obtain his bachelor’s degree in computer science, a topic he really enjoys. After obtaining his degree, Alfaisal said he will return to Saudi Arabia and would like to get a job with Aramco, a Saudi Arabian Oil Co.

When asked about Saudi Arabia, Alfaisal is quick to point out the similarities between his country of origin and the United States.

“It is like growing up in any city in the U.S.,” Alfaisal said. “But growing up in Saudi Arabia is a little bit different from other countries, because parents usually raise their kids to be very close to the Islamic religion.”

Faisal Khan, 21, from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, agrees that his country is not as different as some would expect and clears up a common misconception people have of the Middle East.

“In our country we don’t ride camels; we have cars,” Khan said. “We don’t live in the desert, we have big cities and towns, and we have malls.

“It’s amazing to grow up in Saudi Arabia, especially in my city, Jeddah, the people are so friendly and open-minded, and the important thing is that you can feel safe in any part of the country.”

Khan, a sophomore in the electrical engineering program, attended Oregon State University before transferring to Fresno State to complete his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. After he graduates, Khan said he will return to Saudi Arabia with the hope of obtaining his dream job, which is to be an engineer for one of the biggest companies in the world.

In order to achieve his goal, Khan said he always remembers his mother’s advice.

“My mother told me, ‘Don’t work hard to be like someone, work hard to be better than them,’’’ Khan said.

In addition to learning about computers and wire circuitry, both Alfaisal and Khan said they are looking forward to meeting new people. In fact, Alfaisal said one of the things he is most proud of is having a lot of friends from around the world.

Jungyun “Yuni” Kim, 24, from South Korea, said what she loves most about Fresno State is meeting new people, especially people from around the world. Kim said she decided to attend the university to improve her English language skills at Fresno State’s American English Institute.

Before coming to Fresno, Kim said she had no idea how vast the U.S. was, but now she knows. In the past nine months, Kim has travelled throughout most of the country, including San Francisco, New York City, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains.

Although Kim plans on leaving soon, she said Fresno State has opened her eyes to a whole different world, to different people and different cultures.

“I recommend if someone wants to come here to do it,” Kim said. “And if you can, meet people from different countries because after going back to your own country, you won’t have that chance.”

Muneer Menkabo, 19, from Saudi Arabia said he has also enjoyed the diversity at Fresno State.

When asked what he has enjoyed the most about his stay in America, Menkabo was quick to answer.

“What I love about here is that there are so many places to go and to have fun,” Menkabo said. “For example, I’m in love with roller coasters. I went to Universal Studios, and it was not that scary, but Six Flags is really crazy. I would love to go there anytime. I love Six Flags.”

However, it is not all fun and games for Menkabo who said his classes at Fresno State’s American English Institute have really helped him improve his English.

“When I first came to America, I knew a little bit of English, how to speak it a little bit and understand some of it,” Menkabo said. “But now I can speak more and understand more and before I had no idea how to write anything. Now I can write any essay, maybe not perfect, but at least I can try.”

After he finishes his courses at the American English Institute, Menkabo said he plans to attend an American university where he can major in architecture.


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