International student overcomes stereotypes in the U.S.
BY BECKI DEGEEST
Fitting in can be hard enough for any student coming to college, but for international students the challenge is heightened to a new level. Not only do international students have to adjust to a new culture, way of living and social life, but they also have to “find themselves again,” as Noor Alorman, broadcast journalism senior, put it.
Alorman, who has become a respected student at MSUM, is involved with a wide variety of activities which eventually led her to be nominated and crowned as homecoming queen this last September. While she acknowledges becoming homecoming queen as an accomplishment, it isn’t her biggest.
“My (biggest) accomplishment is not caring about what people think of me, and finding and evolving my own personality,” Alorman said. She also credits becoming a student senator as one of her achievements. “I love it because I get to actually do what I want and help people.”
One of her biggest struggles coming to the U.S. as an Arab and Muslim was the stereotypes.
“There still is a stereotype here, even at MSUM,” she said. “At first it was hard because no one else was supporting me, and it really just hurt to not be accepted.”
She says that this stereotype has followed her everywhere in the U.S., and while some people don’t even realize she is Arab, she feels like she has overcome the stereotype and hopes people in the future won’t instantaneously judge people in a negative light because of where they are from.
Alorman first came to the U.S. with her brother, when she was only 17, she skipped her senior year and studied at a community college in Virginia. She said this was especially hard because all of her friends were still together and finishing their senior year. After getting her generals out of the way, she and her bother decided to start looking for more focused universities. Alorman, who has a love for broadcast journalism, found MSUM for its Mass Communications Department. The two moved, applied and were accepted shortly after.
One thing that Alorman still struggles with is finding her true identity. While she is a Palestinian, she spent most of her life in Qatar and has a Jordanian passport. However, she was born in the United Arab Emirates. She said, “When people ask me where I’m from, I usually just say um . . . I’m Arab or something.”
While Alorman identifies as an Arab and a Muslim she says, “she definitely isn’t a ‘good’ Muslim,” as she does not always follow every tradition of Muslim women.
“I want to do what I want. I want to experience things. I want to go dancing and show my hair. Eventually I may change, but for now I want to do the things I want and express myself,” she said.
Her first night at MSUM was “very interesting” as she put it. Alorman had to change rooms three times in one night and didn’t know anyone. Since she is a very outgoing person, she did not think it would be that hard to make friends, but she quickly realized it was a lot harder than she thought.
“Most of my friends are international students,” Alorman said. “I feel like it is something both sides (U.S and international students) need to work on to be more open and outgoing to really talk to each other. There are several groups or cliques here, and it’s something we all could change.”
Alorman’s goal in life is to help people, though she has “no clue” what she wants to do after she graduates in May, she has thought about broadcasting for the Army. Her goal is to show and work with a new perspective and to get “the entire side of the story.” She also likes the idea of travel journalism. She says she is a journalist who doesn’t like the news typically because, “it seems so emotionless.”
This May, Alorman will graduate with a B.S. in Mass Communications with an emphasis in broadcast journalism and minors in advertising and public relations. When it comes to MSUM, Alorman said despite the cold weather she loves it here; she loves the student’s dedication and being a Dragon.