Dilafruz Ismoilova of Uzbekistan reflects on her past year as a Roanoke College student.
Walking the streets of America, going to the classes on campus at Roanoke College and talking and laughing with both international and American friends. It still seems that I am dreaming, even though I have been here almost a year. When I was back home in Uzbekistan, I would not even dare to imagine experiencing my current life full of excitement and new life adventures.
Almost a year ago, I was blessed to receive a full scholarship through the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Eurasia and Central Asia (UGRAD). This is a program in Uzbekistan provided by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. That August was a month when my life changed and amazing events started happening.
When we arrived in Washington D.C., where all of the Eurasian and Central Asian students met, it was my first experience meeting so many international students. We were in D.C. for a three-day session.
After the sessions and unforgettable experiences, I flew to Salem, Va. Everything seemed so green but also colorful. The surrounding mountains were the perfect addition to the landscape.
If I say that I have never been homesick, it would be a lie. After a couple of days, I felt I was done the American foods, language and this new environment. But thanks to the people who comforted me with their welcoming warmth, their smiles and support. I have lived in Catawba Hall at RC, and living in this dorm with this mixture of cultures, both American and international, I realized that I am one of the most fortunate students to be selected to study specifically at Roanoke College. I cannot remember a day when I felt alone and down in this strange world (except those couple of days in the beginning).
Very few Americans have heard about my country. Every time someone would ask where I was from, I would answer â€œUzbekistan,â€ and they would seem confused. Other times, people would repeat, â€œOh, Pakistan,â€ or â€œI guess it is in Europe, right?â€ I gave a cultural presentation in November about Uzbekistan in order to share my knowledge and help raise a little bit of awareness about my country. I was pleased to see lots people who were interested.
I took part in community service projects at Roanoke College, such as building R-House and Habitat for Humanity houses in South Carolina. These were an exceptional part of my one-year adventure in the United States. Never in my entire life had I experienced this feeling of being so helpful by participating in these wonderful community service programs.
Also, I interned at the Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurial Innovation in the Business Administration department. It is one of the biggest windows to the future for me. Being an intern for the first time in America and learning managerial operations, product promotions and marketing research by actually approaching them in practice is a great key to apply and mix with Uzbek business practices.
The different academic clubs and organizations, such as RC International Club, Asian Students United, RC Model United Nations and American Red Cross, welcomed me and embraced me with the warmth of their community.
Studying in the U.S. for a year not only has given me an opportunity to experience American student life, but it also has allowed me to take in the multicultural atmosphere. I have befriended people from everywhere. Sometimes I make a joke that if I spin the globe and randomly point to a country, there will definitely be people who I know there.
I will never forget each precious moment spent here with amazing people who are just like the nature of Roanoke, colorful and lively.