Aurooba is an exchange student at Castleton University from Pakistan. She sat down with some of her fellow international students to ask how Castleton is different from their home country, what their best experience in Vermont has been thus far, and what they are looking forward to.
It is around 5 p.m. on Jan. 13. I walk out of my building, on the road that leads me to Huden for its dinner time. It was my first day at Castleton University in Vermont.
Sitting at a table in the corner with my friend, I was curiously watching people around me. Although there wasn’t a lot of them, many faces looked familiar due to the expressions of excitement, nervousness, and shyness—all of them portraying my own state.
Castleton is a white town in Vermont, but it has become home to lots of people from all around the world because of Castleton University. Students from all around the world come here to explore, learn, discover, and make friends from another side of the world.
There are 36 countries — 37 including Pakistan — and 26 states represented on campus this semester.
The faces I saw are no longer strangers to me. We have formed a big group of students from different continents, everyone narrating a different story of Castleton in their perspective. So, I decided to reveal their stories to a bigger audience by asking them a few basic questions about how they feel about Vermont, particularly Castleton, and what makes Castleton different from where they have grown up.
Siti Khadeeja Morsalin (Malaysia)
“I am excited to be here at Castleton University and this is my first time in the United States. The weather here is beautiful, I love the snow and enjoy it a lot in cold weather and I wanted to experience snowfall since it never snows where I am from. I am very excited about getting to know the people here and their culture as it is very different from my country. My stay time is just four months but I plan to come here one more time.”
Ilya Vladimirovich Kharytaniuk (Belarus)
“People here are very friendly including the teachers and students. Teachers here have a unique approach to helping students learn. However, the dining hall here has fewer food options.”
Isha Saleem Pulkharamveetil (India)
“I came here for my undergrad studies in computer science. Although I have been here for only four days, I have begun to like Castleton. The faculty are very helpful and I don’t feel alone as I have already made friends. It doesn’t snow in the part of India where I am from.
The best thing I have experienced till now is the ‘Super Bingo’. Everybody is so into bingo; I was surprised and the gifts too were really good.”
Perri Chiadika (Nigeria)
“I have been in Castleton for three weeks now. The main difference I felt back from my home country is the weather, it’s really cold and snowy here. The education system is different, however, I don’t think the culture here is different from Nigeria so I didn’t feel the cultural shock. One of my great experiences is that I made friends pretty fast, which I was not expecting until a few months.”
Ashlesha Mainali (Nepal)
“I came here four months ago in the fall. The people here are more helpful than in other parts of the US. We don’t have much to do, but it is still good to be here especially if you find good friends. I can never forget that once I became very sick and was taken to the hospital. And since I am an international student [and] I don’t have family here, my friends helped me and took care of me.”
Elvira Rodriguez Alonso (Panama)
“I am from Panama. The thing I feel makes Castleton stand out is the architecture of its buildings. It was really surprising for me to see buildings like that as I have never been to a town like this before. Also, the weather here is very different from Panama. The feeling of getting to touch and feel the snow for the first time was unbelievable. I have never seen snow before, although I am 21. One of the wonderful experiences for me at Castleton was getting to know about the cultures of different people here. It widened my horizons. Something that I am looking forward to is ice skating and skiing at Pico or Killington.”
Ayumi Hayakawa (Japan)
“Castleton University has a variety of disciplines and also has a larger area than my university back in Japan. People are very helpful and try to help me whenever I need help.”