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1) Tell us who you are and where you were born? Have you lived in any other countries?

I’m a senior at Western Michigan majoring in aerospace engineering and I’m from Malaysia. Lived in Malaysia all my life until I moved to the States in 2019 to further my studies.

2) Why did you decide to study abroad, and why did you choose the United States?

Coming to the States has always been a dream for me since I was a kid, for vacation though. However, after graduating high school, I stumbled upon this college program called ‘American Degree Transfer Program’ which is quite popular back home. With this program, students do a two-year course in Malaysia and then transfer to the U.S. for another two to three years. I thought this was a good opportunity for me to study abroad and went with it.

3) What has your experience been like as an international student?

I’ve been here for almost three years now and thankfully I can say I’ve had only positive personal experiences so far. Of course there are unfortunate things that have been happening around me which was scary but I haven’t experienced anything life threatening till date and I’m pretty grateful for that.

4) When you finish your education do you plan to return home, move to another country, or stay in the U.S.?

If possible, I do want to stay for a few years and work here before returning home, but my major does have pretty strict requirements like a need for citizenship. I’m still trying to find any sort of job I can get within my field of interest but if I don’t get any, I will head back home once I graduate.

5) What would you like others to know about your migration experience or your experience as an international student?

I think a lot of people think it’s scary to move 10,000 miles away from home with no family or friends around. You basically have to start from scratch again once you reach this foreign soil but for me, I was lucky that I integrated into the international student community here pretty quick. I met many Malaysian students who were very helpful and that made me settle in quicker than I thought I would. Through campus events, I also was very fortunate to meet locals who have made me feel very welcomed here. I guess sometimes the best thing to do is to not think too much about it and let things flow.

6) What advice do you have for people who are interested in connecting with international students in their community?

Being away from home can be a challenge for many, actually. I mean having no support system at all in a land far, far away from home is crazy. For international students, I definitely would suggest connecting with your fellow nationals first. That is the easiest way to integrate into society here. Every college has events for international students to gather and mingle around. That is a great way to know people from the same background as you. Through them, you can then work your way into meeting people from every other background. At least, that’s how I managed to settle in here.

Welcome. Getting involved through ministries with international students, such as the International Campus Ministry at Western Michigan University, are a wonderful way to welcome migrants to your community. Consider connecting to international student ministries at a college, university, or seminary near you. 

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We believe there is a clear biblical mandate to care for people on the move, including those who are involuntarily or forcibly displaced from their homes and are seeking refuge. Will you join us?