Although Medhi Benayad had a few preconceived notions about coming to the United States, it didn't change his mind from coming here to pursue an education. “I came here in two thousand and three and that was when the war in Iraq just started. [and] I am from Morocco, it is an Arab nation and I had some [preconceived] stereotypes,” he says. “Like you are not going to be welcomed over there or you know you are going to have problems. I know it is not true. You know where ever you go you will hear some stereotypes, but all stereotypes are not true basically,” he says.
“I thought of the U-S as just like the style of Europe because I have been to Europe so many times and actually it is something different than that. It is very broad and I decided to come here because the level of education is high and there are a lot of things to learn in the U-S.
So for example if you major in one thing you can still major in that field and still learn a lot of things. It opens a lot of doors. It’s really good.”
Georgia State University is where Medhi is attending. He is a Business student majoring in Finance. Medhi says from the guidance and attention students receive in the Business department to the many activities to participate in going to Georgia State couldn't be better. “Georgia State is the university known to be very diverse one. It is a whole new world. There are students majoring in every kind of major, every kind of field. It’s been an awesome experience. I got to know a lot of people officially, people in the department of Business,” he says.
“What I really like is Georgia State is really famous for the Robertson College of Business. People there help me so much to get through my college experience and through them I got my first internship last summer. The Department of Finance in particularly that is the one I know about it,” he says.
“The professors they really keep track on the students they send out email to let us know about internship opportunities or employment opportunities for students and especially for international students they really care about us. There is a career service department that takes care of us. They make sure our resume looks good employers. It really has been an awesome experience,” he says.
“There is a lot of extra curricular activities, there is a lot of student associations to join, and a lot of trips, and there is the intramural association for sports to join. You can join the soccer team, the tennis team they do fields, it’s really a fun university to be at and I am still enjoying it.”
Since going to the university, Mehdi says being a VISA leader is his most memorable experience. “I’ve been a VISA leader which VISA stands for Volunteer International Student Association leader. We help the international students who come during the orientation. We help them get involved on campus, we give them every information concerning them to start their life at Georgia State and it has been an amazing experience,” he says.
“ I made a lot of friends, you get to know a lot of people at school, it is a great learning experience especially leadership. You gain a lot of leadership skills by working with a group of people it shows you how to react to people and it is just like a group project. In a group project you have to know how to manage yourself and how to work with different people that come from absolutely different culture and different countries so it was a great learning experience for me.”
Mehdi says he has adjusted to being here, but he also says he has noticed the differences in cultures as well as some similarities. “There is a lot of similarities and there is a lot of differences. If I start off with similarities, I mean I am talking about Morocco it is kind of a modernize Arab country. Similarities I mean you know we have a lot of young people who like to party just like the way they do here which is no difference, I ‘m talking about like clubs. For example the clubs here and there you would not see a difference the people do party over there,” he says. “Of course there are differences. It is a different culture. Like people’s mind are different that is why when I came here I had a culture shock which is I believe everyone who comes to live in the U-S for the first time experiences a culture shock for example, in a routine day in Morocco we work in the morning from eight to twelve, then we go home from twelve to two to eat and relax and then we come back to work. It is just like a new day starting in the afternoon. However, here it is a routine starting from nine [in the morning] to four and it is kind of different for me. I had a hard time getting use to that.”
This is Mehdi's senior year at Georgia State University. He will graduate next year in August.