International students open up about experience at COD thus far


Bridget Kingston, Features Editor

Every Thursday morning at 8 a.m., students from around the world come together in one classroom here at College of DuPage, to discuss life, school, and the fact that they are all a very long way from home.

COD currently is the home base for 14 international students, through the Community College Initiative program (CCI). Sponsored through the United States State Department, the program allows students from all over the world, with varying levels of college education, to come to the U.S. and experience life and education at the college.

Chris Manamela and David Seduane of South Africa, both Information Technology students, recount how much they are enjoying the overall energy and student life experience at COD.

“Well a huge part of it, is just that it’s crazy fun,” Manamela says of his and Seduane’s time with some of the various clubs at COD. “There’s just lots of people to meet. People here are very friendly, and everyone does a lot of stuff.”

He and Seduane enjoyed playing “crazy games” with the Gaming Club, and are amazed at how much fun campus is. He goes on to explain how the clubs at his college in South Africa were very different, in that they were mainly volunteer based and aimed at helping others, with less of a focus on forming relationships with peers.

Business Management and Administration student Umer Aslam was in awe of the library COD students are blessed to have at their disposal. Having traveled a long way from Pakistan, Aslam first stepped foot into the COD library two week ago, and was shocked that he could check out as many books as he wanted, as well as how helpful the staff was.

“It is very difficult to find my list of books, and if I did not find something I can order it from the desk. I found that very helpful, that was good,” Aslam said. He also feels that COD is unique in that it offers many courses at affordable prices, specifically the Organizational Behavior class he is currently enrolled in.

“In my country, we have this kind of class, but only at actual universities, and it’s very expensive.” Aslam explains how he likes that the class is available and accessible to everyone, at a college level.

Beauty culture also became a topic of discussion between two of the students, both from Brazil. Coming from the country known for producing the most beautiful people in the world, Neri Pereira and Artur Borges agreed that people here in America are much more accepting, open, and relaxed when it comes to appearance.

“In Brazil, women compete with other women about who is more beautiful,” Borges explains. “It’s just a crazy culture and big focus on beauty.”

Pereira adds how the focus on beauty in Brazil is so strong, that it easily trumps having an education and being smart, especially for women.

“If you’re smart, they don’t care. You need to be beautiful, not smart. It’s really hard,” Pereira recounts. She says there is much less pressure here in America, that there are far less judgements placed on people’s appearances. “Here its nice, people don’t judge.” Pereira is currently studying Tourism and Earth Science, and Borges is studying Applied Engineering.

The 14 students hail from a total of eight countries collectively: Pakistan, Brazil, Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, India, and South Africa. Most of them arrived in July and participated in a summer orientation, as well as English as a Second Language courses to prepare them for the upcoming fall and spring semesters. They will return home at the end of May, marking a total of ten months in America.