Student from Oman shares her story at International Student Reception

Eryn Gebacz

International students and their families gathered in the library Thursday, Jan. 26 for the International Student Reception to discuss what it takes to be successful students.

Dean of university libraries James Bracken opened the reception by asking the students and their families if they had ever read the book, “The Odyssey.”

Bracken went on to describe Ulysses’, the main character in the book, journey home after the Trojan War. He told the students about how Ulysses is accepted by his various host families during his decade-long journey home.

“Every time he (Ulysses) goes into a new place, the first thing his host does at that new place is feed him and the idea of sharing a meal is to be hospitable,” Bracken said.

Students and their families were then invited to enjoy a meal as they listened to a student-led panel discussion on how to be successful students at Kent State, which was followed by presentations about library resources.

Junior digital media production major Zahra Al Balushi was one of the panelists during this discussion. She described the adaptations she had to make in her life in order be successful in her classes.

Al Balushi is from Oman and was sent to Kent State by her government in 2014. She said Kent State has a contract with her government, which is why several students from Oman have made their way to Kent.

Al Balushi’s major was also chosen for her by her government. She described how there are around 40 majors to choose from in her country, and how her major was determined by her grades. She said she was excited to major in digital media production and for the surprises that were waiting for her in America.

“I met a lot of friends when in America, especially with international students because we understand each other. We make fun when we make grammar mistakes,” Al Balushi said. 

During her first semester at Kent, Al Balushi was in a lot of small group classes because professors were aware that she needed more time to understand the material being discussed. She said the reason she needed more time was because the way she learns is first by translating the material, then by processing the information.

“We study English in first grade for 12 years, but the English that we study is British. That’s why we have a problem when we come here, because American accent is different than British accent,” Al Balushi said.

Though she struggled as a first semester freshman because of adjustments in a new country, she has used her struggles as learning experiences and motivation. Al Balushi has a job already lined up for her back home at a media ministry, which she said she is very excited about. She continues to push herself to get good grades in order to get into a master’s program in Oman.

“I think it would be really cool to teach what I learn here because back home we don’t have these subjects,” Al Balushi said.

Al Balushi said resources are more limited in Oman. Universities there are comprised of three or four buildings with few major choices. She said back home she wouldn’t have access to the cameras that the library has to offer, which are essential to her digital media production projects.

Kent State hosts the International Student Reception event so international students and their families are knowledgeable of resources the library has to offer.

Eryn Gebacz is the international student issues reporter, contact her at [email protected]