Thousands of international students come to the U.S. every year in search of a college degree. Among those is a motivated young man who traveled from the Middle Eastern country of Oman to fulfill his dream of becoming a successful businessman.
Twenty-one-year old freshman Ahmed Omer, business management major, is a full-time international student at OCCC.
Omer’s first name was one of the names of the Prophet Muhammad in the Islamic religion. He was born and raised in Oman but is a citizen of Pakistan.
Pakistan is a South Asian country, bordering the Arabian Sea, between India on the east, Iran and Afghanistan on the west, and China in the north, according to The World Factbook.
It is an Islamic country where 95 percent of the population is Muslim and the rest Christian and Hindu.
Omer said he is a national of Pakistan because it’s very difficult to obtain citizenship in Oman. “[The] government of Oman does not issue the citizenship easily,” he said.
Oman is a Middle Eastern country that borders the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Persian Gulf, between Yemen and UAE.
Born in Muscat, the capital of Oman, Omer is the youngest child in his family of seven.
He said he comes from a well-respected family. His parents sent him as well as his two brothers and sisters to study abroad, Omer said.
Omer came to the States in spring 2010 as a freshman at OCCC.
His brother, who graduated from University of Central Oklahoma, was the one who recommended he attend college in Oklahoma, he said.
Omer said, when he first arrived in the States, things were not too difficult for him because he lived with his brother in Edmond.
“My brother used to cover all my expenses due to which I never experienced any trouble,” he said.
Although Omer said he didn’t experience much cultural shock in the early days, he said he did feel strange when people he didn’t know would smile at him.
“That was something that I’ve never seen in my country,” he said.
Later when he learned it was a common gesture of kindness, he said he felt more at ease.
Communicating in English also was not too difficult for him because he had learned English in elementary school.
However, Omer said, since English is not an official language in Oman, he used to have hard time understanding Americans.
“Especially when I was in a group, I had a hard time speaking and understanding people,” he said.
He said his brother told him communicating with more people is the only way to become more fluent, so these days, he said, he is trying to speak with as many people as he can, trying to overcome his natural shyness.
He said he has been shy his entire life.
“Though I had many friends, most of them were guys,” he said. “I used to get nervous talking to girls.”
Omer said OCCC has been like a temporary home for him these days because he is taking 18 credit hours this semester.
“I will be at the school all day long from Monday to Saturday,” he said.
He said he is fascinated by the infrastructures available at OCCC. The college’s lab, swimming pool, gymnasium, basketball and badminton courts are a few things he likes to use in his free time.
Omer said he also likes to play cricket, soccer, badminton, table tennis, and basketball. He said he plays badminton on a regular basis.
“I play badminton with business Professor Vijayan Ramachandran and economics Professor Charles Myrick,” he said.
Another thing Omer likes about OCCC is its labs.
“I like the fact that they have labs with tutors which is amazing,” he said. “It’s something that we normally don’t see in schools and colleges back home.”
He said he also likes how faculty and staff are “helpful and nice” at OCCC.
“Some of my professors are very nice, they even help me when it’s not their office hours.”
However he said, he has bitter experiences too.
For those people, he said, “Don’t judge people at the first look. After meeting once or twice, you can decide about them.”
Omer, has visited more than half dozen of states in the U.S. since arriving, including Georgia, Florida, Texas, California and Arkansas.
He said Oklahoma is the place he wants to live in the future.
However, he said with sadness, he will leave Oklahoma next semester to transfer to Broome Community College in Binghamton, NY, where his brother is working on a master’s degree.
He said he is moving to New York to be with his brother to make it easier for him financially.
Omer said it can be difficult for international students to live and study in the U.S.
Being a full-time student and working only part-time on campus can be stressful for most international students, he said.
But Omer said he believes Allah will take care of everything.
His message for the international students at OCCC is: “Try to make as many friends as you can and that will overcome the homesickness.
“Take part in the college activities and also use the facilities that are available inside the campus.
Since all of us are here to study, study hard and make your parents and country proud,” he said.
Omer, who said he is thankful for what he has right now, ended with, “Alhumdulillah,” which means praise to a God.