VOA's America's Global College Forum Series profiles students from abroad studying at America's colleges and universities. In this edition, we profile Andrew Fanous. The Egyptian native is studying Pre-Med in Vermont.
Andrew Fanous is making the most of his life and education. As a Science student, mentor, and founder of two campus clubs, Andrew shares a bit about his life and the college he is attending. “I come from Alexandria in Egypt and when I was 16 I got a scholarship to enroll in a international school in Canada and from there I applied to some American universities and I ended up in Middlebury College in Vermont,” he says. “Middlebury College is a very international place. I think eleven or twelve percent or the student body is international. It is an excellent school. It is a top liberal arts college in the country and even though it is a little bit cold for an Egyptian, it is still a lot of fun academically and reputation wise it is a very good university. A very good college.”
As a third-year undergraduate student at Middlebury College, Andrew says his interest in many subjects has led him to pursue a double major instead of just one. “Well, I have always wanted to become a doctor so I am also pre-med so I decided to take Molecular Biology and Biochemistry because it’s the closest major for pre-med, he says. “ I also like languages a lot so I decided to learn a new language and I also like to study a year abroad in a different country so I decided to learn German and I spent my junior year in Berlin Germany in Berlin.”
Having a double major can be challenging, however that hasn't kept Andrew from contributing to the college by organizing a club. “I founded two new associations while at college. One is the Middlebury College Arbor Society and the second one is the Middlebury College Christian Orthodox Association because I am Christian Orthodox,” he says. “Both of them are aimed at enriching the college culturally and we organize events. We try to make the college community more aware or our presence as people who speak like Arabic…. Arabic speakers, but also as Christian Orthodox students. We have conferences, we have parties and we are always there for people who would like to know more about our background.”
Andrew says he has notice many differences between being in the United States and being in Egypt, but the most precious thing he appreciates about being here is having freedom of speech.” Well first of all the language is different and hence the attitude of people is different. Here in the United States and also in Canada where I went to school you can always say whatever you want as long as you are politically correct,” he says. “At home you cannot always say whatever you want and if you say whatever you want you are usually not politically correct because there are always people who are going to be offended. So this one thing that I truly appreciate about the United States is that you can always say whatever you want. You don’t have to be afraid and as long as you are polite and you are not rude to people you always have the opportunity to speak out your mind.”
He also says after sharing his background with people from the United States, he has come to realize that many people don't realize that all Egyptians are not Arabs. “Well Alexandria is a very, very beautiful place. It is not a typical Egyptian city because it is very Mediterranean,” he says. “It is a huge city. There are five million people. People are very nice. They are very open minded as opposed to other cities in Egypt such as Cairo for example, which is much bigger, people are more focused on their work and jobs…. it is a tougher life than in Alexandria,” he says. “About Egypt maybe one thing many Americans and other people in the world seem to be really unaware of is that twenty percent of the country is Christian and that not all Egyptians are Arabs. So when I say ‘I am not an Arab’, I’m Egyptian because my grandparents well my grand, grandparents ancestors are the ones who build the pyramids for instance, people are like their eyes become really wide open. They are really surprised at this. So this is one thing that people really don’t seem to be aware of because they think of the Middle East, of Egypt of those countries as all being Arab which is not really true.”
One day Andrew aspires to do work in surgery and cardiology. He realizes that he will have to go to medical school once he graduates at Middlebury College, so he is already looking ahead as to what he will have to do to get there. “Right now I am applying to medical school so hopefully I am going to go to medical school, otherwise I will have to go enroll in the Army then I will apply to medical school.”
Andrew Fanous is one of more than 500,000 international students currently enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities.