Meet Abdulmalik at Purdue University!
Name: Abdulmalik Altararwa
University: Purdue University
Year of Study: Freshman
How did you choose your university destination and course of study?
I chose my course of study based on the subject I was most passionate about during my high school years, which was without a doubt economics.
When I had settled on my choice for a degree, I was ultimately left with three countries to choose from: to study in the United Kingdom, the United States, or Kuwait for my bachelors. After lots of contemplation and researching the pros and cons of all the options I had, I chose the US.
Purdue was actually not initially my first choice. I had planned to go to UT Austin. I chose my list of universities with these specific criterias: strong university reputation for my subject, good student resources, and a large campus with many students.
Of these I had narrowed it down to a few options and Purdue and UT Austin were the ones that stood out. I opted for Purdue at the end.
What have been the highlights of your academic programme so far?
Most definitely the variety of courses I can take. Although I plan to major in economics with a maths focus, I am able to take many random courses such as Mus 161(piano), and languages such as French and Spanish without delaying my graduation.
What do you enjoy most about living in West Lafayette, Indiana?
The diverse student body. I think one thing that becomes very clear when you visit here is that you will meet people from all around the world and the US. I’ve interacted with people from countries that I never have before, such as Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, even Europeans, and South Americans!
How supportive is your university to international students?
Purdue is very supportive towards international students. With a huge international student body, Purdue has also amassed a large number of international professors, teachers and counsellors, the ISS ( International Students & Scholars Centre) provides support to international students too by helping them assimilate and more easily transition to life in West Lafayette.
What have been 3 of the main challenges you have faced during your time at university?
I personally would say the first one is definitely the fact that I commute a long distance; the bus system here is pretty extensive but it’s still a long way each day between my home and campus – 40mins.
The second one would be large classrooms. To those of you who plan to attend Purdue be prepared for your initial classes to have huge classrooms – often around 400 students. The problem with this is it causes a lack of direct engagement with our professors, making it harder to form personal connections with lecturers and consequently hard for students to get themselves completely invested in the class.
And finally, the increased difficulty of the academic content. I personally was not expecting the leap in difficulty. If you’re transitioning from high school with your A Levels/IBs/APs make sure you prepare well for your university courses! In particular, the one I think will surprise you the most is mathematics as the lack of direct tutorship will strike you hard in more quantitative subjects, so make sure you’re extra prepared for maths, economics, and generally any extensively quantitative subjects.
What activities are you involved in outside of your academic programme?
I personally play a lot of soccer in my free time, and travel a lot. I have not engaged in any other activities on campus, not because of the lack of activities but just because I lack time to engage in them! My studies keep me pretty busy.
How easy is it to find accommodation? Can you describe your living arrangements?
It is extremely difficult to find accommodation in the West Lafayette area. I was fortunate enough to find good accommodation for a reasonable price, however it is really far from the campus. I personally live in a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom with my mother and brother, roughly 4 miles away from campus!
Do you think your university experience is preparing you well for the working world and do they offer support with finding jobs and internships?
The university is surely preparing me well for the working world, and they support us heavily with finding jobs and internships, such as the regular emails we get with opportunities. Purdue also offers a Centre for Career Opportunities where we can search for jobs that are currently being offered on/off campus, internships, and much more!
What opportunities have you had to travel and explore during weekends and vacations?
I have actually travelled a lot while here! Over the summer I went to Disneyland with my friends. When I first arrived in the US, I landed in Phoenix, Arizona where my friend lives. We then road-tripped to San Diego, and finally Anaheim where we enjoyed Disneyland for a few days!
After my summer semester ended, I went to Chicago and Minneapolis with a friend of mine for a couple of days! This was a wonderful experience, as Chicago is an amazing city, although I personally did not enjoy Minneapolis too much! As a city made by bikers for bikers, it had horrible roads and very poor overall infrastructure and while the Mall of America was beautiful, it didn’t live up to what I was expecting. The University of Minnesota at the twin cities also has a very ugly ( respectfully) campus.
And finally, my most recent trip was where I went to the World Finals for League of Legends in San Francisco with a friend of mine. It was a wonderful experience, one that I will forever remember!
What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would offer an international student thinking of coming to Purdue University and the USA to study?
Be prepared for the culture shock! While I did prepare for the diversity of people you will meet here, it’s still important to realise that the culture is very different to the Middle East, even in little things! An example of this is when going out to eat it’s very common for people to “split the bill” in sharp contrast to Kuwait where one person would pay – and we all compete to pay! A weird difference, but one nevertheless, is that there’s also wearing shoes indoors but I’d like to keep that far out of my mind.
Keep an open mind! It’s completely acceptable to maintain your cultural principles, as I have personally, but make sure you keep in mind that other people are not obliged to share the same opinion/beliefs as you!
Research the campus you plan to go to! It’s really important to understand that all universities in the US have a vastly different culture; they are like small mini communities inside the US. While a university like the University of Arizona may be known for partying, Purdue is labelled as a more “nerdy school”. Research and find out what type of campus you really want to be on, as you’ll be spending 4 years there!