ASU international students overcome challenges to succeed as Sun Devils

ASU seeks to make international students feel at home

International students at ASU have thrived despite various challenges, and their unique perspectives continue to be a major part of the University's success.

There are more than 12,750 international students from 150 different countries at ASU as of November 2016 —more than any other public university. The University is regarded as one of the top universities in the country for international students and provides numerous resources for those students.

Anik Jha, an electrical engineering graduate student from India, said that ASU accommodates international students in several different ways.

“Any time there is an issue, they have helped me every time," he said. "Whether it be housing or employment — people here are very approachable. Any international student here has anything they’ll ever need.”

Jha said that he wants to represent his country by showing other students that what is portrayed of India isn’t always the reality.

“What I have seen from movies as well as hearing from other people, is their understanding of India is completely different than what it actually is,” he said. “As much as I can, I just try to spread awareness that it’s not what you think.”

Pauline Nalumansi, an accountancy senior from Uganda who will be attending the Thunderbird School of Global Management to pursue her master’s degree in August, said that international students may find it difficult to build relationships with their American counterparts. 

“Some American students are not willing to know much about our cultures, so we kind of feel this rejection, so we tend to stay to ourselves rather than being out there sharing our cultures,” she said. 

But she said that she enjoys any opportunity to share her country and culture.

"It’s so hard to just go up to somebody and say, ‘Hey, can I talk to you about my culture?’ — so to some extent you expect someone to ask you where you are from," she said.

Nalumansi has tried her hand at just about everything she can while at ASU.

In addition to mentoring high school students, she is the assistant executive director of Collegetown at ASU, as well as the 2017 winner of the Changemaker Challenge for her creation of the Pauline Foundation.

One of the greatest challenges international students may face is the cost of attending school in another country. 

ASU estimates that the cost of attendance for some international students can reach over $50,000 for an academic year. Because of this, ASU offers the New American University merit-based scholarship to a select number of international students that show promise in their academic careers.

Daniel Hoyle, associate director of ASU’s International Student and Scholars Center, said that ASU tailors its support and services to the unique backgrounds of international students.

“Throughout their time here, we offer them a wide range of services, everything from leadership development programs, academic support and cultural celebrations,” he said.

Hoyle said that he wants the rest of the ASU student body to understand that international students are no different than them.

“They came here for a reason, just like domestic students — they want to be as much a part of ASU as our U.S.-based students,” he said. “I mean the ‘international’ is an important part of who they are and their culture, but at the end of the day, they’re students, they’re human.” 

Reach the reporter at or follow @JMBarnitz on Twitter.

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