The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

88° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    International students look toward the future

    As Lana Abu-Shaheen prepares to graduate, her immediate concern is how to get all her belongings back to her home in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

    “”I don’t know how five years’ worth of stuff is going to fit in two suitcases,”” she said.

    Abu-Shaheen, who is graduating with a degree in management information systems and operations management, is one of the thousands of international students across the U.S. who faces leaving the country once classes are finished.

    Once she has her degree, she will return to Dubai because her visa will expire 60 days after the last day of class. She considered staying in the U.S., but students who work after graduating are not allowed to leave the U.S. during that time.

    “”I haven’t seen my family in a year and a half,”” she said. “”Not being able to see my family for another year (would) just kill me.””

    It would have cost the same amount to attend college in Dubai, but Abu-Shaheen said she came to the U.S. for her degree because it would allow her to get paid three times more, giving her a competitive edge when she moves back.

    When she does move permanently, Abu-Shaheen thinks it will be a major change, even though she has visited home since coming to the U.S.

    “”It’s going to be a cultural change. I’m not scared because I go there every summer, but it’s going to be very exciting to see how it will be in the workforce,”” she said.

    Other international students said their time in the U.S. has made them appreciate their experiences of other cultures.

    Dari Al-Huwail, a senior majoring in MIS and operations management from Kuwait, said choosing to study abroad was the best decision he’s ever made.

    “”I got away from everything that really is me, and it made me really appreciate my culture and other cultures and other people at the same time,”” he said.

    When Al-Huwail first moved here, his sole objective was to return and help his own country. But after attending the UA and being exposed to different cultures, he said his perspective broadened, and now he wants to help anyone who is in need.

    “”I have become more open-minded and excepting of others and different cultures. (It has been a) really valuable experience to better myself,”” he said.

    Al-Huwail’s student visa will run out as soon as his studies are completed, but he plans to extend his visit by pursuing graduate degrees and some work experience in the U.S. before he returns to his native country.

    Business administration senior Jose Ponce, who moved from Caracas, Venezuela, and has been living with relatives in Tucson, also said he plans to remain in the country to get practical experience.

    Ponce said he hopes his future employer will provide him a sponsorship visa so he can eventually apply to become a resident.

    “”I always wanted to come here,”” Ponce said. “” The United States is the type of country where if you want to be the best at what you do, you have to be the best on a world-class level, and I love that type of challenge.””

    Many Venezuelans have left their homeland because of the unstable political situation there, he said. Now that he’s in the U.S., Ponce said he probably won’t return home because he needs to pay off loans that he wouldn’t be able to using Venezuelan currency.

    “”I really like it here,”” he said. “”And I finished my studies at the UA with a ($60,000) loan.””

    Ponce said attending the UA helped not only to develop his career opportunities, but also himself as a person.

    “”I feel like I’m a different person. Usually, I’m a really shy person, (but) interacting and coming to this school has made me come out of my shell,”” he said. “”I just love the United States, it’s like a dream come true.””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search