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A year through an international student’s eyes

By Nikisun Shrestha
On May 9, 2017

The end of the spring 2017 semester means that it has been nearly a year since I’ve arrived in the United States as an international student. It has been an eventful year for me as a student and as a foreigner.

The fall semester began with statewide flooding. After 16 months of experiencing the Nepal earthquake, there could not have been a more devastating way to start off my time in another country. However, the camaraderie and the togetherness following the disaster was something that was touching to see and was also a reminder of what is common in all of us.

After this rocky start, what followed was a lot of first experiences.

I got my job here at the paper which was my first job in the United States. This allowed me to meet new people around the university. People who were merely faces in the crowd became a lot more familiar with time as I got more engaged with the paper, and I’m very grateful for this opportunity.    

Two months after the start of the fall semester was the first time I was able to properly comprehend the distance between me and my family. Dashain is one of the biggest festival celebrated by Hindus around the world. Dashain of October 2016 was the first time I was celebrating it away from my family. Although the festival would not be the same as in Nepal, the Nepalese community at the university did organize events that reflected our culture and tried to recreate the vibe of Dashain.

During last semester, I also experienced my first homecoming. The celebration around the university was unique to see. This also coincided with my first live football game experience where the Lions defeated Houston Baptist. 

I also had the opportunity to see my first live NBA game at the Smoothie King Center as the Pelicans defeated the Lakers. The experience was surreal as this was something that I’d only been seeing through television screens.

There were many other trivial yet shocking encounters I faced in my first semester. Just when I think that I am starting to get the hang of things, another puzzling incident comes right after to put me right where I began. However, there has been progress from the end of my first semester.

 Even before the spring semester began, there was a major change that created shockwaves amongst the international students. Donald Trump was elected the President of the United States. Even before his first day at the office, him being elected created a sense of uncertainty among the international community. His travel ban policy exacerbated the fear that was already present. Things have been calmer since then but as an international student, I am not sure about what his next policy could have in store for me.

Super Bowl LI was another memorable time during this semester. Witnessing one of the historic comebacks in sports was something special. Robert Alford’s presence in the game made the day special for the university, and he also performed with a Superbowl MVP-worthy performance 

One major highlight of the spring semester has been the whole time of Mardi Gras. The parades, the colorful celebration that Louisiana is renowned for, was yet another event I experienced for the first time. Getting a week-long break made that time even more enjoyable.

But Mardi Gras was not the only holiday I celebrated in the spring. Despite being 8,500 miles away from my country, I had the chance to celebrate the Festival of Colors Holi, thanks to the help of the Nepalese Student Association at Southeastern Louisiana University and the Nepalese community. The event was held outside Pennington and had all the ingredients that a standard Holi celebration has back home.  

My second semester has been as fascinating for me, if not more than my first semester. The people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had and the lessons I’ve learned through these two semesters have been very helpful. I am adjusting to the culture, the people, the language, the food and many other aspects of America and all I can say is I look forward to spending yet another semester and another year at a place that is gradually becoming my home.

 

 

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