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Many international students at Weber State University are preparing for graduation at the end of fall semester. Some of them will return to their home countries, while others are ready to find jobs in the United States.
The process of coming to a U.S. college is complex for international students. It requires enrollment, expenses amounting up to $25,000, and establishing a visa to come to WSU.
“We have about 430 students,” said Morteza Emami, director of the International Student Center. “Our number stays around 450 or 500, because when others leave, new ones come.”
Emami said students’ visas allow them to come to the U.S. and go full-time to college. Some of them are able to find jobs on campus or training in their chosen job fields.
“The majority of international students don’t have the opportunity to find off-campus jobs,” Emami said.
After graduation, students can apply for Optional Practical Training for up to 27 months, with the majority of majors doing one year. If a student does OPT and the company likes his or her work, the student can pursue an immigrant visa for work placement. Otherwise, students can’t stay in the U.S. after graduation.
Emami said it could take up to six and a half years for international students to complete their college careers. The reason it can take that much longer is that students who aren’t proficient in English have to take English as a second language for up to a year and a half. For the most part, students are encouraged to take 15-18 credit hours a semester to finish within a reasonable time.
Three students graduating this semester are Hussain Alsedrau from Saudi Arabia, Cheng Chen from China and Peipei Xue, also from China. Each of them said they learned a lot while attending WSU.
Alsedrau transferred from Houston, Texas, to WSU, and plans on going back to Saudi Arabia after graduation. He majored in telecommunications and business, and will be trying to get a job in his country.
“I hope I will be back,” Alsedrau said. “I love it here.”
Alsedrau said it’s a good experience to gather people from different countries who speak different languages. He said it helped him learn of different cultures.
“I think Weber State has good faculty who will help international students,” Alsedrau said. “They give us a good environment and help you in classes.”
Chen came to WSU in conjunction with Shanghai Normal University in China. She majored in international economics, which involved two years at SHNU and about two and a half years at WSU. After graduation, Chen said, she will be pursuing a master’s degree at a school in New Jersey.
“If everything goes well, I will stay in the States for two or three years to work, and then go back to China,” she said.
Chen said her GPA in Shanghai had to be above 2.0 in order for her to come to WSU. She said there usually aren’t problems with coming to the U.S.
Chen said she thinks U.S. culture is better because the professors are friendly and she can argue with them. In China, she said, some professors think they are always right, and she can’t argue or interact as much with them.
“People here are always friendly,” Chen said.
Xue is graduating after three years at WSU. She said she is already used to everything at WSU and has made a lot of new friends. She also did the program between SHNU and WSU.
“I’m trying to find a job here, or go to a graduate school,” Xue said. “I’d prefer to work with a company that cooperates with China.”
Xue said it would be an advantage to get a job in conjunction with China because she can speak Chinese and English.
“It’s better for me to use it as an advantage to do my job,” she said.
Xue said she doesn’t have any relatives in the U.S., but will probably just stay for a little while and see what happens.
International students who have gone to WSU have increased opportunities to find jobs in either country due to the growth of international business. These three students said they learned a lot about cultures to help them do better in the job market.