International Siblings Studying More Than Academics at St. Edward's
This fall, a record 120 new international students from 25 countries came to study at St. Edward’s University.
One of these new students is Norah Jumaiah (Communication, left in photo below) from Saudi Arabia. Norah is starting her first semester as a freshman and joins her two older siblings, Mashari (sophomore, Computer Science, right in photo) and Mashael (freshman, Communication, center in photo), at St. Edward’s.
All three siblings moved to Austin in 2010 to study English at a language academy. After completing their studies, they decided to stay in Austin and apply to St. Edward’s. Although they have lived in Austin for two years, there are still aspects of living in the U.S. that the students are adjusting to.
“In our culture, you don’t move away from home until you’re married. So this is a big change for us. Everything is our decision and our responsibility. In a way, it’s similar to the responsibilities other college students have,” said Mashari.
“But studying abroad, we also struggle with a new place, a new community and a new language. St. Edward’s is really great because they help us with all of this. They really care about you,” said Mashael.
“In the first week of classes, my professors knew I was an international student. They realized it was hard for me and offered me help. I really love that they are so understanding and helpful,” said Norah.
One of the things the siblings look forward to most is interacting with people from a wide range of backgrounds and life experiences. They’ll have many opportunities on the hilltop. St. Edward’s is home to students from 40 countries, representing 28 languages.
“We’ve met a lot of international students in our classes — from Mexico, France, Bahrain, Angola, Taiwan … and our own country. We want to share cultural differences with everyone and learn how people look at the world from outside their countries,” said Mashari and Norah.
“I love the diversity at St. Edward’s,” said Mashael. “I studied at a university back home for three years, but I came here and started over. It’s a totally different community and campus. Here, everyone has different lifestyles and cultures — it’s fun to learn with people from around the world,” said Mashael.
Along with access to a thriving global community, St. Edward’s gives the Jumaiah siblings the educational tools they need to overcome the challenges associated with being an international student.
“I haven’t found a university better than St. Edward’s. There are small classes and a great faculty — you get a lot of attention from professors and TAs [teaching assistants], and help from classmates,” said Mashari. “With the support I get here, I know I can go on to do anything.”
The three siblings hope to learn a third language — French or Spanish — and study abroad in other countries. Though they’re thousands of miles from their own country, they’re happy to call St. Edward’s their home away from home.
“It’s so friendly and there’s great hospitality,” said Mashari.