An Alien’s Perspective: Getting things right the first time

Thanks to you, I’m back by popular demand. It’s been a good winter for me, given that I got to visit my family for a short while. The semester’s begun and while for many of you it means resuming classes at Wichita State, I realize for some of you, it is your first time at WSU. I dedicate this column to letting you know the few things I learned about WSU after just coming here.

Basketball’s big: A lot of countries aren’t able to support a sports program that can get larger than life. Coming to WSU, I knew it supported a good athletic program. What I didn’t realize was how big basketball is at WSU. As a student, you can easily procure tickets for free from the University. Even if you haven’t watched basketball ever before, make sure you get the tickets in advance and attend the games. Your college schedule will get the better of you before you know it, and attending the games is a crucial bit of the student experience at WSU.

The food is terrible: If you’re new and haven’t heard of the phrase, “freshman fifteen,” you soon will. Very shortly, you will realize that the food served on campus is terrible for you. The protein content is lower than one would like, while the fat and sodium levels go through the roof. In a paranoid world run by a paranoid me, I would arrest you on grounds of being suicidal for eating the food on campus.

If you’re living in the dorms, there’s a shuttle service that goes to Dillons and Wal-Mart frequently. Get your own groceries and start cooking your own healthy food. Don’t make excuses for yourself by saying you have no experience in cooking. The solution to that is simple: watch YouTube videos and grab a copy of The Sunflower on Thursdays.

What’s the worst that could happen? You might end up burning down the dorms. At least you’ll look fabulous from eating healthier when you’re running out of the burning building.

An Alien's Perspective - Welcome Spring 2014

Time management: The education system in the country I come from is different in several ways than the system at WSU. Everyone back home shared the same timetable. We had classes at the same time and went to bed at the same time. So when I came here, I realized that I was inferior at time management. Don’t let that happen to you, and make sure you plan your schedule well in advance and stick to it. It’s one of your most valuable assets.

It’s good to be back, and I wish you the best in your endeavors this semester.


An Alien’s Perspective: Dating international students

Dating across cultural barriers can be exhilarating and honestly, quite unparallelled. The idea of dating someone exotic is a massive turn on. Much like the honeymoon effect, the differences between you are pronounced in a positive, exciting way. This can apply to everything from the texture of her skin to the fact that he measures distances in kilometers. However, like most relationships, the differences between you can create a lot of work.

One major issue of concern that I have noticed is religion. Coming from a country with a very strong religious background, I expected the amount of religious enthusiasm in the U.S. to be insignificant  by comparison. However, I have come to learn that though religious involvement may be different here, it is of no lesser magnitude. That being said, a mutual respect for religion and religious freedom is of utmost importance. Getting evangelistic if your partner follows a different religion is major mistake. Respecting your partner’s faith is a basic necessity.


The role culture plays in the relationship is not something to be undermined, and yet I notice culture being undermined all the time. If you are unfamiliar with your partner’s culture, assume you know nothing about it. In fact, a partial understanding of someone’s culture does not qualify you either. Just because I have a friend of a friend of a cousin who has travelled to France for a month, that does not make me an authority on French culture.

Something as simple as their choice in food can be difficult to understand. In a culture where the term “non-vegetarian” is rarely used, it can be difficult to understand your partner’s food choices if he or she is vegetarian, which can be both a religious and cultural choice. For cultures dominated by vegetarianism, even being in a restaurant that serves non-vegetarian food can be nauseating. It goes without saying that patience becomes far more than a virtue.

Another thing I can never stress on enough is that different acts, gestures and phrases have different implications across different cultures. If he is nervous about going to a public event with you, it does not mean he is ashamed of you. It just means he is mortified by the idea of being photographed and tagged on Facebook and receiving a call from home two hours later if dating is not common in his culture.

“Will my Dad force choke me over the phone or will it be my uncle,” my mind races desperately, “Or maybe I will just die of embarrassment when I try to swing dance,” I decide, consoling myself.

If you are considering dating someone from a different cultural background, go ahead. It may be the best you ever have. But tread carefully; tread respectfully.