Nawaf Alsaif from Saudi Arabia graduated from California State University, Fresno with a major in construction management and a minor in general business administration

Nawaf Alsaif from Saudi Arabia graduated from California State University, Fresno with a major in construction management and a minor in general business administration

Why did you decide to study in the USA?

Deciding to study in the USA is an ambitious decision that comes after much reflection and self-review and based on unique circumstances. In my case, the availability of appropriate conditions and the support of friends and family, especially parents, were the first impetus to embark on this journey. In addition, it was said that there are at least seven benefits of traveling: it is a recreation, a seek for living, a seek of knowledge, an attaining for morals, a companionship with people’s dignity, an experience with people, and it’s a blessing to the call of success and prosperity.

Why did you choose this particular college or university?

For multiple reasons:

  • After looking at many universities, I found that California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) is my destination.

  • Fresno is a golden Californian city located in the Central Valley, and it is the fifth-largest city in California and the 35th-largest in the United States. Also, the first thing that I heard from my scholarship consultant was that Fresno is amazing and it’s full of trees. 

  • California State University, Fresno is one of the first universities in the state in the fields of science, engineering, STEM, agriculture, linguistics, and business.

  • The campus area is close to tourist cities and is located between the capital city Sacramento and San Francisco to the north and Los Angeles to the south, with approximately three hours to all these cities by car.

  • Also, I was impressed by the good reputation the university has in dealing with Saudi students. It has over 30 years of serving international students. By reading and researching more through the university's websites, I was able to obtain more information about my major in construction management, and I found that it is a promising specialty for students of Fresno State and through my studies I got to know many domestic and international great people.  Also, Fresno State provides the appropriate environment for academic research, ambitious works, and international events, which significantly reflects that the university is at a high level of sophistication and awareness dealing with all that hinder its international students to achieve their achievements and highlight their talents. Accordingly, the university has provided me with many opportunities and achievements based on the principles of its motto of diversity, distinction and discovery, allowing a developing environment for Fresno State students to be reliable leaders in achieving and building a better future, Allah willing.

  • I’m always grateful to my country Saudi Arabia, which granted me the opportunity of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques scholarship program to study in the U.S. Also, thanks also to the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission in America for its continued service and support for all students nationwide during their studies in the U.S. 

What do you like best about your program or university?

What I liked best about my university is the way the international student building deals with students, the ease of communication with international student officials, as well as the speed of response they have, and the facilitation of international students' procedures, including everything.  As with my experience with officials in the international student building, I not only obtained the facilitation of procedures and speed of response, but also gained from them academic advice, especially from the side of the vice president for international affairs.  These were tips that I benefited a lot from in the academic track, which was one of the reasons that made me a successful academic student.

What do you miss most about home?

The thing I miss most about my homeland is the Saudi food, the joy of holidays (Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr) and the gatherings of family, friends. and relatives.  Likewise, I miss the call to prayer in my home country, which is the takbeer in mosques so as to enter the time of prayer.  Most importantly, I miss my family and siblings.

What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?

The biggest surprise to me about life and education in the United States was the people around me and my classmates. The way people treat me kindly, and their desire to help me with any problem, whether it is a personal problem or a problem related to the classes and the university in general. And their smile that does not leave them. As a Muslim, we have a saying “a smile on your brother's face is an act of charity,” so this thing made me happy every morning a passing person smiles at me.

... your biggest disappointment?

My biggest disappointment was the circumstances that occurred in COVID-19 pandemic, which was a full semester late for graduation. I was supposed to graduate in the spring of 2020, but was delayed to graduate in the fall of 2020.  Although it was a disappointment, this period and these circumstances motivated me to learn my skills and develop myself in the field of construction management.

How have you handled:

... language differences?

The reason for the ease with which I deal with the difference in language was because people understood that I did not speak English fluently in my first year in the United States.  They would help me speak and try to understand me from a single word, and that encouraged me to talk to them and not be ashamed of my mistake in speaking.

... finances?

As for financial matters, I am supported with enough money from my country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is because I am a student enrolled in the scholarship. In my early days in the United States, I was having difficulty carrying cash, because I did not know the details of the currency, including coins and others.  But with the passage of time it adapted and became familiar with the currency and also dealt with several banks in the United States, including Bank of America.

... adjusting to a different educational system?

Adapting to a different education system wasn't too difficult for me. This is because the officials and instructors, as well as students, were lenient and cooperative in everything. I used to ask my classmates if anything was difficult for me, and they were willing to help me with anything. I would return to the instructor if I did not get a sufficient answer to my question and they were happy to help me with any problem. This was the reason for the rapid adaptation of the difference in education.

What are your activities? 

I was president of the Saudi Club for the year 2017-2018 at California State University, Fresno.  I formed a special team, and we had 7 members. Each member was working with his interests, and the positions were as follows: President - Vice President - Treasurer- Sports Officer - Media Officer - Cultural Officer - Women Affairs Officer. We have participated in many activities at the university, including the Middle East Fun Night, International Education Week.  We also participated in a sports tournament with the Saudi students in San Diego.

How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA? 

I cannot say that making a friendship is difficult or easy.  As I mentioned in the answer to the fifth question.  People here in the United States are nice and social.  I believe that forming relationships differs in difficulty and ease depending on the person.

What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?

My major is construction management, and with that I seek to manage construction as a project manager, consultant, and contractor, which also would give me the opportunity to work with many fields in engineering like owners, architects, mechanical, electrical, civil, environmental engineers and much more of other major fields in engineering construction. In addition, my education and my study in America will grant me the opportunity and ability to give back to my country and family who supported me all along my path studying at Fresno State. The university also supports and welcomes its international students for introducing Saudi history, civilization, and culture to the American society through various activities of cultural, social, sports, and media programs, which is diverse and promoted from both ethnicities and national backgrounds to multiple perspectives and lifestyles. During the time of study and being active at the campus I am excited to start working and think that I would meet many of my colleagues in my future professional life. 

What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?

My first advice that I think to give after this trip is that nothing is impossible and for some helpful tools in your toolbox just add adaptation, patience, achievement, and desire, and this only might help you a lot, then choose the university, the city, and good companionship. 

Second, through your studies and your life abroad, be sure to sharpen your skills, talents, and prospects for the job market.  As I also learned that a Fresno State student is soaring high and bold.

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