Meet Abdualrazzaq at Purdue University!
Name: Abdulrazzaq Altararwa
University: Purdue University
Degree: Psychological Sciences
Current Year of Study: 1st year (freshman)
How did you choose your university destination and course of study?
During my A-Levels, I chose psychology as a subject because it piqued my interest. I always loved the sciences like biology and chemistry, but thought it may not actually be what I’d like to do career-wise. After completing my exams, I realized my passion for psychology; abnormal psychology was my speciality during my A-Levels: it was my favorite subject. Understanding my new ideal career and my newfound fascination, I decided to choose psychology as my major.
I chose Purdue University due to convenience as well as comfort. My brother and I applied to the same universities and because it would be a bit daunting starting my “independent” life in a new continent, I decided to stick with my brother so it would be easier to adjust, and I sure am glad I chose it!
What have been the highlights of your academic programme so far?
A few of my highlights have been study sessions with friends to cram for my social psychology exam, doing assignments together, and achieving high marks due to my hard work!
What do you enjoy most about living in West Lafayette?
How cozy it feels! It is quite a small city, and everyone I’ve met so far has been lovely.
Although the weather is quite different from my home country, it has actually been quite amusing not fully knowing what tomorrow’s weather will be like. In the middle of October, there was a week of sheer winter, followed by almost summer-like weather, crazy huh?
How supportive is your university to international students?
Honestly, they have treated me as well as if I was a local student. My academic advisor always plans things with me being an international student in mind, providing me with resources and ways to proceed with my degree while being in regulation with my student visa.
What have been 3 of the main challenges you have faced during your time at university?
- Balancing having fun and studying has been a struggle. I am a very task-oriented person and I like to set plans for myself everyday, however due to the nature of university there is much to do all the time so it has been hard to find a strict balance between studying and my free time.
- Another challenge has been the struggle of trying to be self-disciplined. There are many opportunities available on campus, but it is up to you how much you involve yourself in activities. Coming from an online school and having had introverted background, it has been difficult working up the courage to just go for it, but I have been trying my best to take it one step at a time.
- The third challenge was how difficult university is compared to high school! Many of my exams are multiple choice, and while I did have multiple choice exams during my A-Levels, I am so used to memorization-based learning due to the UK curriculum. However, the US curriculum focuses on concept-based learning, and many students have learned due to the SATs how to efficiently rule out answers in multiple choice papers. I had no idea of this so it was very hard to adjust to this testing method.
What activities are you involved in outside of your academic programme?
I’m currently part of the Psych Grad DEI, where graduate students volunteer as mentors for undergraduate students! We meet up on a semi-regular basis and have fun with some snacks and drinks, while of course talking about future academic plans, uncovering the “hidden curriculum” when it comes to grad school. As a matter of fact, I have an upcoming paint night, which I am very excited for!
How easy is it to find accommodation? Can you describe your living arrangements?
From what I’ve heard, the accommodation provided by Purdue is really hard to find! Thankfully, I haven’t had to deal with the struggles of finding accommodation due to my current living situation. I reside in an off-campus apartment called WestRidge Flats with my brother and mother. It’s a 10 minute drive away from campus and a 30 or so minute bus ride, it’s a bit of a way off without a car but it’s manageable and bus rides have become really relaxing!
Do you think your university experience is preparing you well for the working world and do they offer support with finding jobs and internships?
Due to Purdue being a research-focused university, there are so many research opportunities available, and some volunteering opportunities provided every semester. I don’t believe universities fully prepare you for the working world, but thankfully Purdue has many opportunities that may provide you with experience to build your resume or experience a glimpse of what it may be like after graduation.
What opportunities have you had to travel and explore during weekends and vacations?
I have had many opportunities to explore; the Great Lafayette area is very big so I enjoyed exploring many areas such as Tippecanoe Mall. Chicago is also about 3 hours away by car so I’ve bought some tickets for a concert and I’m preparing for the trip next semester!
I’ve also been invited to a retreat recently, and I’m so excited for that as I’m going with two friends I made recently.
What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would offer an international student thinking of coming to Purdue and the USA to study?
The advice I would give is:
- Don’t doubt yourself! If you believe you have the highest chance of succeeding in the USA after doing some research, don’t second-guess yourself as overthinking which place to study abroad is daunting. I definitely had a hard time as studying abroad was terrifying! However, if you feel like you’d be most successful or even more comfortable in the USA, it’s definitely worth it!
- Purdue is a research-focused institute. If your dream career relates to research or engineering, I highly recommend becoming a boilermaker. Not only do they provide you with many ways to be involved in a research lab, they also have many courses strictly about research that count towards your degree.
- Purdue is diverse. I have met many people from different nationalities and ethnicities, they also have many organizations for ethnic cultures with frequent events to connect with others of similar backgrounds.