What do you like most about CMU?
It is hard to choose what I like most! I like the ambiance. I like how beautiful the school is during fall. I like the people from different parts of the world that I made friends with and who have become like my family. I also like the relationship between instructors, faculty, staff, and students.
Did you face any culture shock (Academic, Personal, etc.) when you arrived in CMU or in the United States?
Yes, a lot! For example, the weather was difficult to adjust to. Even though I started during a fall semester, the weather seemed ridiculous for me! I was used to the average of 80 degrees F, so it took me a while to adjust to the weather. I first thought fall was extremely cold until winter came!
Another shock was not using the metric system. I had to always convert everything from Celsius, kilometers and kilograms to the US system.
I also faced academic culture shock too. Classrooms back home are formal, so it took me time to adjust to the informal classroom culture here. Also, it took me about a week to figure out Blackboard, as I was not used to doing school work online. Back home, I always wrote and turned in physical paper copies throughout my undergrad, handwritten too!
Regarding cultural differences: the culture here is pretty individualistic, so I had to adjust from the communal way I was used to. Secondly, respect is big back home and it is odd to call older people, instructors, and work supervisors by their first name. It took me a long while to start calling superiors here by their first name. Back home, you call people by Mr./Mrs. or Auntie and Uncle just to show respect even if they are not your real uncles or aunties. If it was back home, I would have to call Tracy [Nakajima in OIA], Auntie Tracy.
What resources did you use here on campus to help overcome the challenges you mentioned above?
Advisors, friends, instructors, and work supervisors were all accessible and quick to answer questions. They were very helpful for me.
Tell us about any hobbies or activities you enjoy.
I enjoy doing community service work through the Volunteer Center
. Through them, I got to travel to different cities in Michigan such as Clare, Midland, and Flint to do volunteer work. It is always exciting to see these new places without any cost for me while still helping the community. I also love attending events through the Leadership Institute, not only do you learn how to be a leader, there is always freebies and food at these events! I also enjoy meeting people, going shopping, going to the movies, and trying out different restaurants with my friends. I also love going to football, basketball, lacrosse and other games as well as going to the SAC to swim and to relax in the hot tub and the sauna with my friends.
What do you miss most about your home country?
I miss the busy city sometimes, my family, going out with my friends, and the food.
What advice would you give to International Students just arriving to CMU?
There is a place for everyone here no matter what your background is or your beliefs are. CMU is a home away from home. Be involved in activities around school and enjoy your time here while studying hard. Make use of all the resources CMU offers. There are various resources to help with everything, be it academic, social, community, career or leadership development. The Volunteer Center, the library, the writing center, presentation skills center, math assistance center, career services, the leadership institute, the SAC, and the OIA are all there to help you and are all resources you should use! There are also multicultural organizations such as ISO, and various country or ethnicity based organizations.
Interview conducted by Megan Hofer, International Student Advisor with the Office of International Affairs, Ronan 330. Habeebat was nominated by OIA staff for her outstanding work as a graduate assistant in the OIA and for all the work she has done to help international students at CMU in one way or another.