Katie's Katchup with Young Trailblazers
Fatimat is Chemistry Ph.D. candidate at Louisiana State University from Nigeria.
Weerachet, better known as Pitch, is majoring in Human Factors Psychology at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Pitch's home country is Thailand.
Both these students took the leap and decided to continue their education as international university student in the United States. Our student intern Katie caught up with them recently! Keep reading to learn about their experiences.
Why did you choose to study abroad in the United States?
Pitch: I chose to study in the US because the academic quality in the US is second to none.
The curriculum and research here are undeniably cutting-edge, and I knew that studying in the US would open up a wide range of career prospects.
Fatimat: I chose to study in the US because of the opportunities for graduate assistantships, financial aid, and the number of research facilities available. I also received recommendations from friends who studied in the US based on their wonderful experiences.
How long have you been in the United States?
Pitch: I have been in the US since 10th grade, so about six years now.
Fatimat: Four years and three months.
What made you choose your major?
Pitch: I wanted to study the design of products and improve them. The application of human
factors psychology is perfect for me as it focuses on how humans interact with technology and environments.
Fatimat: I chose my major because I had a great interest in using organic chemistry as a tool in saving human lives and to help them live better. I developed an interest in organic chemistry in high school and after realizing its numerous applications and potentials in solving real-world problems, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. degree in chemistry to help achieve my goals.
What made you choose your university?
Pitch: ERAU is one of the few universities that offer a focus on human factors psychology. Moreover, the professors here are fantastic!
Fatimat: I chose LSU due to the availability of assistantships, financial support, and distinguished professors whose research interests align with mine. I also chose LSU due to its diversity, culture, and weather which is similar to that of my home country and not too cold during winter.
Do you participate in extracurricular activities?
Pitch: Yes, I do. I am a member of the International Student Program Council and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society on campus.
Fatimat: Yes. I have had the opportunity to be a leader and an active member of various organizations on campus. I also try as much as possible to give back to Baton Rouge community through various volunteering services.
What was the biggest cultural shock you experienced when you came to the US?
Pitch: Probably the habit of smiling at strangers and making small talk.
Fatimat: I had many but I would say the Student-instructor/staff relationship. The way students relate with their professors, instructors, and staff here is a lot different than I had expected. Back home, it’s like an apprentice-boss type relationship, except in very few cases. As a student, you will have to put sir or ma’am whenever you are addressing any staff member of the school and it is considered rude to call them by their first names. I found it shocking that here many of the staff don’t really mind you calling them by their first names. I believe this helped in creating a more friendly and safe environment for learning and other activities.
What do you miss most about your home country?
Pitch: I don’t miss it as much as I used to anymore, but Thai food and 7-11 corner stores, we have a lot of 7-11s and they are very nice.
Fatimat: I miss my loved ones, the food, and the culture.
What would like to do after graduation?
Pitch: I would like to further pursue my education at a graduate level and eventually become a researcher.
Fatimat: I would like to do research in drug discovery or a related field where I can contribute to making people’s lives healthier and better.
What advice do you have for other international students seeking to study in the US?
Pitch: Break the bubble! It might be comfortable to surround yourself with other international students from the same country as you, but you're here to learn about different culture and ideologies, not only from academic classes but also from experience.
Fatimat: Before applying check your department of interest’s website for application requirements, deadlines, financial aid, and resources available for international students. If possible find international students in the school to talk to for guidance. Once the admission offer comes in, start working on visa application and getting the necessary documents. Use your point of contact in the school to further guide you about flights, things to bring, finding an apartment, and getting settled in your new home and community. Make use of all resources provided for international students, avoid illegal activities, study hard and smart but don’t forget to make new friends. This creates a successful and wonderful experience for you as an international student.