International students experience first year together

It’s not too often that Nelida Guzman and Diana Ibarra are not together on the Weber State University campus. Both in their first semesters at WSU, the two have become great friends while being away from their respective countries.

Guzman, an international economics major from Venezuela, said she decided on WSU because the university didn’t have the strenuous paperwork that other universities have.

“It was easy for me as an international student (because) they don’t ask for too many papers,” she said. “I was trying to get into the University of North Carolina, but it was difficult to get there.”

Like many other international students, Guzman said the language was a big adjustment for her while in the classroom. Guzman is enrolled in ESL classes and is almost done with them. Other than language, Guzman said the biggest difference has been the culture.

“Utah is a laid-back, slower state, and I have had a hard time finding things to do because you need a car for everything,” she said.

Ibarra, a German major from Mexico, agreed with a laugh.

“Back in Mexico, there is always something going on,” she said. “Utah is very quiet, and for me, the food is a big issue. For me, it’s not good food. There is too much fast food.”

Ibarra, who moved to Utah because her boyfriend lives in Clearfield, said she misses her friends and family the most.

“None of my friends or family are planning on visiting, but having my boyfriend here has helped,” she said.

Both Guzman and Ibarra are currently living in the dorms and said they enjoy shopping, going to the movies, bowling, and grabbing coffee at Starbucks.

“We try and cook authentic dishes from our countries, and although they are good, they aren’t the same as being at home,” Ibarra said.

Morteza Emami, director of the International Student and Scholar Center, said he is thrilled to have Guzman and Ibarra enrolled at WSU. He said he couldn’t be happier with the amount of international students at WSU.

“I think the most important aspect of having international students at our campus is the diversity they bring to our campus community and the impact they may have on the education of our domestic students in and outside the classroom,” Emami said. “In exchange, international students receive high-quality education that, when they return home, increases their chance of landing jobs in which they could have impact in shaping their societies and even politics.”

Both Guzman and Ibarra said they are unclear on what the future holds for them. Guzman said she is thinking about majoring in French to go along with her international economics degree, while Ibarra said she plans on staying in the US if she can find a good job out of college. They both said they feel comfortable around each other and have created a lifelong friendship.

“We mostly hang out with international students because we have something in common with them,” Ibarra said. “We all are away from home and rely on each other to make this experience enjoyable.”