Youssif Alrashdan, ELP Student


A fish learning to swim

 ELP students

B‌y: Youssif Alrashdan, Student Contributor
Global Education Office
(804) 828-3636

Richmond, Va. (October 17, 2017) — Have you ever felt like a fish out of water? Well, I felt like this once I left my country and came to the U.S. It was one of the most challenging decisions I’ve made in my life since I decided to leave my supportive family in Kuwait and go to live alone in a foreign country.

I came to the U.S. to study and improve my English. Fortunately, VCU has the English Language Program (ELP) for international students, which in addition to helping them in improving their language, it prepares them well for the academic.

When I first came to Richmond, it was on Thursday evening. And I still can see it as if it was yesterday. The streets were calm and I wondered why there weren’t a lot of people outside. After a couple of weeks, I began to know Richmond more and more. It’s more like a study area since VCU occupies most of Richmond and that’s what makes it totally suitable for students. During weekdays I always see people busy, working, studying, or holding books and reading them in the library. However, on the weekends, people are always up for some activities, like going to the Byrd Theater and skating. 

Before I came here it was really hard for me to speak out loud and share my own opinions. But in the ELP I learned how I can express my viewpoints and thoughts freely and talk without fear of being judged by other people.

In the ELP, I met people from different countries and that’s what I liked the most about it, the rapport between the diversity of countries. People from China, Japan, Korea, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia all cooperate together in the classes and in addition to improving my English language, the ELP gave me the chance to know more about other countries cultures as a result of creating relationships with other students.

Before I came to the U.S. I was as any other international student, afraid of how I was going to make it. But today, I feel like a VCU ram, which symbolizes fearlessness and strength. All my feelings of vulnerability have disappeared.

Youssif Alrashdan is a Level student in the VCU English Language Program. Originally from Kuwait City, Kuwait, Youssif plans to apply to VCU School of the Arts to study interior design after completing the program.

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