While, for example, moving from Saudi Arabia to Orem brings a dramatic change in culture, our international students speak positively about their time here.
Though Utah County’s quiet and conservative social reputation has earned it the nickname “Happy Valley”, the melting pot of cultures that has grown on campus is something appreciated by international students.
“I don’t know what it is, I guess I like the variety here,” said Giovanna Ramos, a student from Mexico.
Ramos has spent the past three years studying at UVU. She admitted it was difficult when she first came since the culture was very different from where she grew up.
She was learning English, so at first she had a hard time when asked questions or approached by people on campus. Since then she’s become fluent in English and loves the culture here.
“Here you get people from all over the place, it’s what I like most about being here. I like exotic things. It’s new here, it’s fun,” Ramos said.
Although the ethnic variety is becoming more ‘exotic’, the activities seem far from exotic. Some students wish there were more activities in the area.
“I wish there were more malls, more entertainment, more activities going on,” said Yazeed Alissa, a UVU student from the middle east.
Along with the lack of activities, some students feel like the things available close too early.
Mansour Alshammari has learned a lot about the Utah culture, because he has found that many natives he talks to don’t know the lifestyle he does.
“I can’t practice English with the American guys,” Alshammari said.
He sometimes finds it more difficult to relate to those within the Utah majority religious group because of their rigid lifestyle.
Alshammari wishes there was something to do with his friends later at night.
“When the mall closes at eight, oh man,” Alshammari said.
Although many international students wish there was more to do, overall students prefer Utah because of the safety. Alshammari feels like the streets are safer at night.
“I can walk outside any time; in other states it would be a problem,” Alshammari said.
Alkhalaf compared Utah to Los Angeles noting the crime rate difference.
Abdu Alhemaid is a new student from Saudi Arabia.
“I have many friends in Chicago, Florida, cities with higher crime rates,” Alhemaid said. “It’s safe here. It’s a perfect city.”
By ALEX GEE