I have never been fortunate enough to visit or study in another country, but I have had the privilege of having many international friends. I keep in touch with a good friend from Poland, which has been a meaningful example for me of how relationships can cross great distances. Having international friends is a great way to experience culture and learn about others. My life has been so enriched by my friends around the world, but I have only experienced one side of this adventure. I wanted to know more about what it is like to be an international student in college, so I talked to Cornerstone’s director of international recruitment and asked some of my classmates about their personal experiences studying abroad in the U.S..
Cornerstone is blessed to have international students from more than 30 different countries. I have been able to experience so much culture through presentations, events and conversations with many people.
Though the transition may be a big change, Cornerstone does everything it can to provide for all its students.
“Every year we are learning and growing in the support aspect of serving international students,” said Dave Emerson, director of admissions and international recruitment. “When they arrive, we have a three-day orientation for them that helps them orient campus and learn about U.S. culture. They have a peer guide who is a current CU student; someone to help them through unique challenges they might face and connect them with fun activities to help them get settled.”
To get a better understanding of the experience, I also talked to some international students for their personal perspectives.
Delight is a current sophomore at Cornerstone majoring in psychology and minoring in business administration. As a sophomore in high school, Delight traveled from her home in India to attend a high school in the United States. It was from a college counselor there that she heard about Cornerstone.
“I got an opportunity to go to high school here and then I just wanted to continue my education here and grow as an individual both intellectually and spiritually,” said Delight.
When first coming to the United States, Delight encountered many changes.
“Adjusting to ‘American’ food was really hard,” said Delight. “Learning to be more independent at the age of sixteen was hard as well. Indian culture is very communal. We do everything together, and family members are always considered in every decision that is made. So, learning to adjust to a culture very different from my own was hard.”
After high school, Delight underwent another new transition as she moved on to attend college at Cornerstone.
“Knowing the international students community at CU beforehand through visits and overnights was really helpful when I first came to the campus,” Delight said.
Delight is an intelligent student and wonderful friend to a myriad of her classmates. Her kindness is a blessing to Cornerstone, and her patience and love in sharing about her culture has helped our community learn and grow. She is always willing to discuss her home and culture, and has done so many times during classes.
Alazar M. Alemu’s Experience
Alazar M. Alemu is a bio-medical engineering major on track to graduate from Cornerstone in 2024. Alemu grew up in Ethiopia, and he heard about Cornerstone from a friend who currently attends another university in Grand Rapids, Mich. He chose to come to the United States to pursue an affordable higher education.
One of the biggest difficulties for Alemu was leaving his family. He is extremely close with them, especially his little sister, who he has spent much time with.
”Knowing that I would not see them for at least a year was tough,” said Alemu.
Though he applied and was accepted by a multitude of colleges in the U.S., Alemu was drawn to the hospitality and relational aspects of Cornerstone.
“Cornerstone responded to each email I sent about any information and gave me guidance through the entire process,” Alemu said.
Alemu has quickly become a valued member of the CU community and contributes to the Christ-based experience that first drew him here. Leaving a place you know and love is difficult, but Cornerstone works hard to make all feel welcome and to provide an intentional, caring place for all of its students.
Maurita Oduor’s Experience
Maurita Oduor is a pre-occupational therapy major with a minor in psychology and plans to graduate in May of 2021. Oduor is not your typical international student. Her experience studying internationally stems from having missionary parents. Shortly after being born in the United States, her parents were called to Chad and Tanzania. At the age of 6, Oduor moved to France with her family and spent many years there before moving back to the states for schooling.
“In total, my family and I have moved fourteen times and been to twenty-seven different countries during my living years!” Oduor said. “Although these were not always easy experiences, they are what made me to be ‘me’, and I would not change them for anything.”
Oduor mentioned that it was difficult to leave friends and family when coming to Cornerstone.
“I sometimes find myself going back to France in my mind, and it makes me feel both super happy and sad at the same time,” Oduor admitted. “Then I come back to reality, and I love where I am now! It is so cool to see how God really has a plan and purpose for everything that happens in life.”
Cornerstone has been a place for her to grow in her faith among a community of believers.
“One of my favorite things is seeing so many different cultures come together, especially as internationals, which just brings all of the different places I have come to call home–and many more–together in one beautiful place that we can all call our home away from home.”
Living in so many places can be difficult, but Oduor was able to find a home in Cornerstone, and we are lucky to have her. As a part of ministry, worship team and as a fellow classmate, Maurita brings her own unique and beautiful touch to our school.
It seems that no matter where you come from, the relationships you make with others are valuable, and we can always learn from each other. Cornerstone welcomes all, so if you are interested in attending a university in America, check us out! Now is the perfect time to virtually explore campus and have online meetings with admissions counselors.