International students find ‘sense of belonging’ at Cal Lutheran


Photo by Youssef Aldossary- Reporter

The Center for Global Engagement, which is located above the Student Union, is one of the many resources on campus available to international students.

Youssef Aldossary, Reporter

As an international student from Saudi Arabia, studying in America has brought me very far from my country and my family. Initially, I was scared about coming to a new place and meeting new people in California. Things were very different at first, but now it is much easier than before. I have lots of friends and California Lutheran University has felt like home in the span of these four years. 

“There is this international community that has grown over the years and it varies from year to year because different students come in,” Professor of Communication Russell Stockard said in a phone interview.

In my personal opinion, Cal Lutheran makes sure that students are well informed about its mission and culture before stepping foot on the campus so that their integration to the campus environment is smooth.

In these four years, I have tried to engage as much as I can in extracurricular activities through different campus clubs. I have made friends in a new community which personally helped me to overcome my language barrier. 

Because of the school’s location, it gives students the opportunity to see so many different attractions. Even at the local level, there are places such as Wildwood Regional Park to enjoy outdoor activities like nature hikes, biking, horseback riding and summer day camps.

Nighat Shah, assistant for the Center of Global Engagement, said in an email interview that the life of an international student is very busy between learning the new academic system, getting to know new people and exploring new culture. The language barriers can be overcome by finding the right support and by making new local friends.

“We pair them with current students through the Peer mentor program and I meet with them periodically to ensure that they feel supported and develop a sense of belonging,” Shah said.

It is also hard to adjust when you are learning the English language and have no idea where and how to start your journey from. Fortunately I met some good people here in Cal Lutheran who were really helpful.

I have personally used the resources available on campus so that I can make myself more familiar with the people at Cal Lutheran. The Writing Center, library resources and Career Services have made things easier for me as I got a better understanding of the campus environment. 

Career Services specifically has helped me to find my purpose and plan my career. The Writing center has helped me a lot to improve my writing and communication skills.

Stockard said that students who have come from far away to study here should spend time with other international students because their experience may be different and all students must learn about other countries and its people. It is a chance for students to become knowledgeable and better people.

In my opinion, Cal Lutheran has been an attraction to international students due to its high standard of education and quality of campus life that the university offers. 

California Lutheran University is an inclusive place where we prepare students for success and leadership in today’s world. We have small size classes where students develop special bonds with faculty,” Shah said.

I can surely say that Cal Lutheran has impacted my life in a good way, and I have really grown as a person. I am so proud of myself for being able to graduate this semester. In the future, I would like to visit the campus to share my experiences over these four years in California and encourage more international students to attend.