Name: Nasser Alsowayigh
Home country: Saudi Arabia
Major: Master’s degree in Information Technology Management
How long are you staying? I have been in the US for three years now. I did my undergraduate degree back home and then came here to study English and do my master’s.
Why did you come here? I have a scholarship from my country for Missouri Western. My country provides a list of universities that I can go to and Western was one of the universities on the list. I applied to different universities and got accepted to Western, that’s why I came here. I came to America mostly for my English, since my bachelor’s degree was Tourism Management and for tourism you need English because it’s the universal language.
What did you expect? I saw a lot of movies, maybe I had this idea American people would be similar to the movies. It is kind of different, but I like it here. People are friendly, I didn’t expect that. I mean since there is history between my country and United States, and some people have a bad image about Muslim people and they think some of us are terrorists or we are very strict. So I was worried I might face some trouble but most of the people are friendly and they also think that I am friendly and open-minded. A good thing that I learned is to communicate with other cultures and religions and it’s actually really fun.
Favorite thing about America? Here I feel more free, not because my country is strict or anything like, but because people here don’t judge you. In my country they might not judge you to your face but you can feel it, maybe it’s just me but that is how I feel. The way you talk, the way you dress, the way you joke, you may face judgment in my country. But here you don’t face judging, you just do what you want, whenever you want, as long as you don’t break any law of course. That’s something I like here. And also meeting new cultures, you can’t find that in many countries.
Least favorite thing about America? I can’t really think of something. Maybe something about me, not America – that people don’t speak my language, but that’s not their problem [laughs]. But there is nothing in particular I dislike.
What did you think about Americans before? What now? I didn’t have stereotypes in mind, but as I said before I based my perspective of America on movies where they show people to be heroes all the time and romantic relationships in a certain way, and in real life it’s very different. People act normally and not so exaggerated.
What did surprise you? You know how sometimes media portrays something a certain way and you assume people all think a certain way, but when you talk to actual people they sometimes think the media is wrong and agree with you and are interested in my culture and religion, that’s something that surprised me. They are more open-minded and still want to hear about my religion even after what they heard from the media.
Favorite TV Show? I like Shark Tank and I like watching Family Feud, it’s really funny. I also watch a lot of Netflix.
Worst/best food and beer? Best food I tried in the United States is Burger. Worst one was steak. The steak back home is well-done, people here like it bloody. My favorite beer is Budweiser and my least favorite is Bud Light.
Favorite experience? Chicago. I lived in Chicago for one and a half years and it feels like my country, not only my city. It’s home to me.
What do you miss most about home? My family, my childhood friends, food and how you can communicate with others way easier in your own language. I also miss my culture, I don’t have to explain myself. Some of my people here face trouble praying. I don’t say people are complaining when we do it, but we feel like we make people uncomfortable so we don’t do it.