International students find campus friendly, welcoming

Nov. 20, 2011

April Wefler
awefler@uccs.edu

Many international students are in agreement: They like being here and find the students welcoming.

There are currently 42 countries represented on our campus. Although these countries are primarily Eastern European and Asian, there are also students from New Zealand, Australia, Mexico and Africa, just to name a few.

The majority of our international students are from India and Saudi Arabia because of how strong our engineering program is, said Kolby Stallings, international admissions assistant for International Student Services (ISS).

Abdullah Almurayh is an international student from Saudi Arabia. He is here to get his master’s and Ph.D in computer science.

Almurayh noted that coming here has been a good experience for him.

“It’s good to meet people here, to talk to them,” he said. “They are all friendly, especially in Colorado.”

He would like to see ISS involve more Americans in their programs – not just students, but other people from campus or from the Colorado Springs community. Almurayh said that Americans can share information about the culture here.

“I want to build a bridge between people from my country and this country,” said Almurayh.

Almurayh lives here with his wife and children, and says he doesn’t miss Saudi Arabia. However, he’s a professor in Saudi Arabia and plans to return next summer to teach again before coming back here to continue with his Ph.D.

Veronica Castro, of Ecuador, also said that coming here has been a good experience for her. Castro is a graduate student in the sport nutrition program.

“I already did my master’s in exercise science in Florida,” she said. “I like it way better than the international program in Florida.”

After finishing her program in Florida and choosing to stay in the United States, Castro was deciding between going to school in Utah or in Colorado.

“Both of the programs are really good, but what made me decide for UCCS was Colorado,” she said. “I’ve heard really good things about Colorado. There’s a lot of outdoor things to do year-round.”

Her only complaint about ISS is that, because there are fewer international students when compared to other campuses like CU-Boulder, it limits the things the amount of things the program can do.

“I went to Sarah [Morehead, ISS international admissions advisor] and asked for potential business opportunities, and she said she wasn’t sure.”

Castro said that otherwise, Morehead and the program have been phenomenal.

She doesn’t miss Ecuador.

Both Almurayh and Castro noted that the laws in the United States are very different, which took some getting used to.

Matt Cox is from New Zealand. Like Almurayh and Castro, he said that the ISS program has been helpful.

“The program is very good and keeps other internationals in contact. I enjoy going to all the events and have made some very good friends from the events,” said Cox.

Unlike Almurayh and Castro, Cox said that he misses his home.

“It will be my first Christmas away from home this year, so it is very upsetting not to be able to spend it with family,” he said. “Everyone here has been so inviting, letting me spend Christmas time with them.”

As with Almurayh and Castro, Cox said that the students have been very welcoming and friendly.

Like Almurayh, Cox would like it if ISS could bring more U.S. students to all of the events.

“International students here on campus are the most segregated and isolated. A lot of them don’t talk to students unless they’re from the same country,” said Stalling.

ISS and the International Student Organization (ISO) put on many programs for the international students.

“Last month, we went to a luncheon with the mayor at Broadmoor,” he said. “They also went to the Elitch Gardens.” He noted that the events are free for the international students.

Stalling also said that the ISS doors are always open to any interested students.