Discovering the Beauty in the Little Apple
Composed by Joshua Carlgren & Teddi Wade
Mohammed Alqhiedan grew up in Riyadh, which is the capital city of Saudi Arabia. It was not a difficult decision for him to leave his native country behind to attend college in the United States, due to his passion for wanting to experience new things. He says “I really like to learn about new cultures, and when I do then I generally stick with that culture.” His decision to attend Kansas State University however, took a different path than even he expected. “I did not know there was another Manhattan, other than the one in New York,” Mohammed said. He wasn’t upset when he realized that “the little apple” was in a much more secluded location, as he is fonder of country places due to his upbringing in a large urban city.
Currently Mohammed is enrolled in the English Learning Program at Kansas State, but he is anxiously awaiting the time when he can focus on his true purpose for coming here. He wants to study architectural engineering which is why he decided to come to Kansas State. K-State’s program is regarded very favorably.
Before Mohammed could focus on schoolwork he had to overcome the differences between his country and his new surroundings. He said that when he first saw how women dressed it was a shock compared to Saudi Arabia. Another huge difference was the culture regarding the working class in the United States. Mohammed said, “Saudis do not really like to work in normal places.”
A job such as a barista in a coffee shop would be delegated to someone from another country.
These differences originally resulted in a culture shock for Mohammed, but he soon became comfortable in his new atmosphere. This new feeling of comfort came hand in hand with acceptance by the general population of K-State according to Mohammed. On the other hand some people rejected his attempts at friendship. Mohammed believes that this is due to misunderstanding between cultures, “They don’t know why we walk/talk/act the way we do. If they really learned about me then they would learn to accept and like me.”
Even when he has felt that he was rejected he has relied upon the lessons that his family taught him growing up. Mohammed believes that his family has shaped how he is as a person, and their support has helped him to understand himself. Mohammed thinks that his journey to Kansas State really has caused him to grow as a person. He said, “It is very challenging when you are 18 years old to come all the way here by yourself.” If he were to describe Manhattan to his family he would tell them that it is a beautiful place filled with many awesome people.
Mohammed tries to talk with his family weekly, but he is okay with this. Mohammed believes that he is missed more by his family this way. There are other added benefits from not talking to his family as much. He said, “I actually do not like talking to them very much, because I have a habit that if I talk to them a lot them my mind starts thinking in Arabic.” Mohammed told a story of a time that he got off the phone with his parents and then tried to go order coffee, and a problem that he experienced was that after speaking Arabic with his family he was not able to speak English.
Mohammed is interested in trying to make this experience the best that it can possibly be for him and the people he interacts with. Presently, Mohammed is focusing on obtaining his degree and learning about America’s culture. He said he is very thankful that he has been given the opportunity to come to this other Manhattan, and he will reflect happily on his adventures here in the future.