Admissions-Story

‘Two Completely Different Worlds’: Four International Students Reflect on Homesickness, Culture Shock and the Value of Community

Lidia Mandava ’20 has returned home just once since she came to Cornell. Arzu Mammadova ’20 — who speaks four languages — struggled sometimes in her first-year writing seminar. Georgia Makris ’20 and AbdulRahman Al-Mana ’20 both described missing out on their changing hometowns. All these students are either the only, or one of a handful, student to ever attend Cornell from their home countries.

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LEE | A Non-American’s American Dream

Prior to coming to the United States for university, I regarded the American Dream as a far-fetched ideal that had little to do with my personal life. Taking part in Ellis Island role-play simulations in middle school and reading about Willy Loman’s despairs in Death of a Salesman made me aware of the disillusionment associated with the so-called land of opportunity. While I was able to appreciate the sentiments and discussions that revolved around this ideology that has shaped much of the U.S., I saw it as a distant concept as a non-immigrant foreign student expecting to leave the country after my student visa expires. But over the past two and a half years, I, too, have developed my own American Dream. Lively discussions across campus about social mobility and success have ignited a desire to work hard to improve my circumstances, who I am and who I strive to become.

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LEE | Learning to Accept My Asian Identity

Prior to moving to Dubai, UAE in the middle of High School, I never really thought about what it means to be Asian. Even though the 325 million Americans tend to place the 4.4 billion people on the Asian continent altogether under one group as “Asians,” I could clearly sense that I was an East Asian minority in a country where the vast majority of the people were Middle Eastern or South Asian. I’ve also naturally been in a part of an international community throughout most of my life and was never forced to regard myself as different. Yes, I thought that I was international in that I strive to be a global citizen, but not in the sense of being foreign or someone “other” than the majority. Here in the U.S., I have become increasingly exposed to the different identities one can embrace.

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GUEST ROOM | Cornell Should Empower International Economics Students

International students are integral to Cornell’s campus, mission and values. There is no denying the value and diversity that their presence brings to this campus. Yet international students face many unique barriers at Cornell and are often treated as second-class students. They are the only group subjected to need-aware admissions following the administration’s decision to terminate need-blind policy a couple of years ago. They are the only constituency ineligible to re-apply for financial aid under any circumstances.