For the next year, Fulbright MENA will be showcasing a handful of students as they study in the United States with their new series, A Year in the Fulbright Life. Each month, spotlighted students will share an update as they continue on their Fulbright journey.
I have been daydreaming about Fulbright since high school and finally being here is a “dream come true”. My journey started at Michigan State University (MSU) where I had my pre-academic program. I was mesmerized by MSU’s huge and beautiful campus. Everything is in all shades of green and green is my favorite color- what a good start! MSU is famous for their football team named the Spartans and you can see Spartans logo almost everywhere in the city. Once you get there, you can’t help but start cheering “Go Green, Go White!” I admire this aspect of U.S. culture; connecting sports to campus life as it builds a sense of belonging to the university.
The program was packed with classes and assignments of course, but we also had some trips! We had classes on academic writing, American culture and oral communication. During the oral communication class, I had the opportunity to share my country and culture with my fellow Fulbrighters through a presentation. I enjoyed teaching my friends about my country’s attractions, food, and wonders. I was satisfied and proud to hear my teacher’s positive feedback after class.
The program was interactive and diverse, not only did it introduce me to U.S. culture but it also gave me the opportunity to learn about other cultures. For instance, I tried my best to learn Spanish from my Latino friends, and I taught them how to write their names in Arabic. It was always fun when we have lunch together and start to look for similar words in both languages.
In the last week, we had poster presentation for the class. Each group had to pick a value from the “American Ways” book defining the American culture and document their observations and examples throughout the program. We presented our posters in MSU’s English Language Center where other students and teachers from the university came to watch us. Our team picked the value of “Directness and Assertiveness”. It was a simulation for graduate school and at the same time an effective means to learn more about the United States.
Our time at MSU had come to an end and saying farewell to this outstanding group was not easy, but we all knew that we will be Fulbrighters forever and our support to each other will continue! Let’s hope that our paths cross again in the future!
Shortly after I arrived in Auburn, Auburn University was ranked number one nationally in the “happiest students” category based on the Princeton Review. Back then I thought to myself; wow this is a good start. But now with this storm of projects, assignments, and classes, I wondered if this is going to be the case! I have faith though!
I got the chance to take a photo with Auburn’s eagle during the International Office Welcoming Event. War Eagle!! (You probably still remember “Go Green! Go White!” from last month’s update! Don’t you?!)
The 10th of August was the Day of Arafah, also known as the 9th day of the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. I fasted like most Muslims all over the world who don’t witness the annual Hajj (the Pilgrimage) would do in preparation of the three days festivity following “Eid Al Adha”. My friend Haneen, who moved to Auburn a few years ago, invited me and my roommate to her house for Iftar. We spent the night wrapping the Eid gifts that she intended to give to the kids in the neighborhood on Eid day. Who could have imagined that Eid night would be this much fun despite being far away from home!
We broke our fast on this delicious Iftar that Haneen cooked for us.
Eid gifts and decorations, all set!
On the first week of classes, my amazing department held a potluck to welcome the new students. One of our professors hosted us at her house. This was a great opportunity for all of us to come together, chat and share food. We also celebrated the graduation of one of our PhD colleagues that day. It was indeed inspiring to experience this in my first week at HORP(Health Outcomes Research and Policy)! The HORP department is like no other. It is indeed a FAMILY here!
Once the semester began, I realized how hectic grad school really is. Additionally, I am now experiencing a completely different educational system than the one in Jordan. So I had to create my own way to keep myself motivated and to remind myself of my ultimate goal. I put this note on the wall of my room beside my study desk.
I’m HERE to learn… “.
Every November, Auburn University has a Peace Dinner event hosted by the International Student Organization. This event is held annually as an opportunity for students to learn more about a variety of cultures, try cuisines from several countries across the globe, and listen to traditional music.
I was excited to celebrate my very first Thanksgiving in the United States. I was invited to three Thanksgiving celebrations where I enjoyed eating delicious food, meeting people from all over the world, and getting to know my university better. I also celebrated in my own way. I wrote Thanksgiving letters for my professors and friends to express my gratitude for their support throughout the semester, using postcards I brought with me from back home.
During my Pre-academic Program at Michigan State University, I made friends with a Fulbright student from Pakistan. Our friendship didn’t end when we both left for our assigned universities! This month, she visited me during winter break, and we traveled together to New York.
This is from my first Broadway show! It was incredible!
Checking off the New York Public Library from my bucket list!
Discovering the Vessel with my two Fulbright friends from Pakistan.
New York was freezing in January, but still I had the chance to enjoy Central Park with Fulbrighters from both Jordan and Pakistan!
Sura is a first-year Fulbright student from Jordan. She is working towards her MS in Health Outcomes Research and Policy at Auburn University.