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My Experience at KU

Name: Abdullah Zeyaid Abdlelah Alsaffar

Country: Born in Baghdad, Iraq; lived last 12 years in Dubai, UAE

Year: Junior, Class of 2020

SchoolUniversity of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

Major: Petroleum Engineering

Q. Why did you choose the University of Kansas?

A. While researching universities specific to my major, I found the University of Kansas online and loved the atmosphere. Lawrence seemed like a fun college town to live in. I also learned that KU offers a program that helps international students adapt to American life. It’s called the Academic Accelerator Programand when I learned about it, I knew I was meant to be a Jayhawk.

Q. What was your biggest fear or worry about studying in the United States, and what did you find when you arrived?

A. I was afraid of discrimination, afraid I would be treated differently due to my skin color or for being a bearded Middle Easterner. But when I arrived, I was treated like any other American student. I’ve been here two and half years and have not had an issue with racism. People here are very sweet and helpful, faculty and students, and the people I meet off campus.

Q. What’s the best part of studying in the United States?

A. It’s so easy to travel from state to state! The distance from Kansas to a place like New York in the Middle East would put you in another country. Because the U.S. is one gigantic country, you can see many places without having to get a visa. On one of my breaks, I took a road trip to Chicago and went to Missouri, Iowa, and Ohio. I have also been to Oklahoma, New York and California. It is a great story to tell my grandchildren one day!

Q. What’s the hardest part?

A. It has been hard for me to make American friends. All my friends are international students. American students are my classmates and acquaintances, but our conversations don’t last long. We have different jokes and interests, so it makes it harder and we have to work on that. I do communicate a lot with Americans at work because we have something in common we’re working on.

Q. What’s the coolest thing you’ve done or learned?

A. I worked as an orientation leader. It was a chance to meet new international students and it boosted my leadership abilities as I gave speeches in classrooms and helped students with all their needs. I was once in their shoes, and I welcomed them as an experienced Jayhawk. It just felt great!

Q. What advice would you give incoming students?

A. Study a major you think you will thrive in; Follow rules; Ask questions all the time; Work as an Orientation Leader in the future

Abdullah Zeyaid Abdlelah Alsaffar from Dubai, UAE with the KU Jayhawk mascot (PHOTO: Courtesy of the University of Kansas)

Don’t Miss…

Your school’s basketball and football home games, the atmosphere is outstanding!
DON’T MISS…working a part-time job, the experience you get is priceless!
Oh, and DON’T MISS…class, it’ll reflect badly on your grades!

My Experience Series

Want to meet other international students in the My Experience series?