International Students at EWU Discuss the Struggle and Excitement of Studying Abroad


Emily Powers

While international students at EWU face many obstacles in adjusting to life in a foreign country, the new experiences far outweigh the difficulties for many.

By Cannon Barnett, Reporter

Eastern Washington University international student Hana Tamura from Japan was unprepared for the amount of homework and assessments common in American universities. Abdullah Abdushakour from Saudi Arabia struggles to adapt to public transportation and a cooler climate. 

While international students at EWU face many obstacles in adjusting to life in a foreign country, the new experiences far outweigh the difficulties for many.

The Easterner spoke to four international students about their experiences at EWU during the 2022 Fall Quarter in order to give voice to their unique perspectives on campus and American culture. While the students all struggled with some aspects of life abroad, they all had good things to say about the people they have met, the places they have been and the things they are still excited to see.

Like others at EWU, international students started attending their classes on the 21st of September. Biruktawit “Brooke” Gared, from Ethiopia, arrived in America just a few days before the start of the quarter. 

Emily Powers

“The only thing difficult is leaving my family and starting a whole new path,” Gared said.

Abdushakour also commented on how difficult the buses were to get used to, and he explained that the cooler climate has caused him to begin regularly wearing jackets for the first time.

“I think the weather is the most difficult thing here,” Abdushakour said.

In addition to some things being difficult to adjust to, students also miss things from their homes. 

Tamura commented on missing Japanese comedy shows that aren’t streamed overseas. All of the students missed the food from their home countries. 

“I wouldn’t say the food here is bad, it’s just really expensive,” Umi Thakali from Japan said, adding on to why they missed the food back home. “In Japan, even if you go out and eat, it wouldn’t be $10.”

Emily Powers

Still, the students had a lot of good to say about their time here at Eastern.

“The people are really nice, they are friendly. I like that. And actually, everything is different from my country, including the food, and even the weather is different, Gared said. “It’s good trying new things. I like it, I want to try new things, so I think it’s good.” Gared said of her favorite part of her stay.

Thakali brought up the more widespread acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community on campus compared to Japan.

“People are trying to be inclusive, and I like that about [Eastern]. As a queer, non-binary person I feel very respected, and I like how people are acknowledging my pronouns, and like me for who I am. So that’s great.” they said.

The students are planning on being on campus for varying amounts of time, but they are open to making friends regardless.

Both Gared and Abdushakour said that asking for help with something such as homework is a good way to approach them, while Thakali claimed that something as simple as complimenting their outfit would be a good way to initiate a relationship.

“I want to talk with many people,” Tamura said. “I want them to teach me English, and if American people study Japanese, I can teach them Japanese.”