From Madrid to Manhattan

Ines Peirats De Castro, junior in industrial engineering, is a international exchange student from Madrid, Spain. (Hannah Hunsinger | The Collegian)

Every semester, K-State receives a new batch of students through the study abroad program. Students come from all over the globe, and each faces the challenges of adapting to American culture and a brand new environment while making their time in college fruitful and memorable.

Ines Peirats De Castro, junior in industrial engineering, is a international exchange student from Madrid, Spain in the middle of her first semester at K-State. Peirats picked K-State out of a number of options that included Canada, Croatia, Australia and other colleges within the U.S.

“I wanted to study anywhere in America because I always dreamed of living in a place like I saw in the movies,” Peirats said. “I decided (on) Kansas because I heard many great things about the people.”

Study abroad programs provide an excellent experience for international students, pushing them to adjust to a lifestyle different than that of their home-countries.

“A big adjustment I have to make is the change in times,” Peirats said. “In my university in Spain, lunch is 2 p.m. and dinner is 9 p.m. I don’t mind it, but the biggest problem for me is that my English is not very good. That is why I came to study in America.”

Sarwar Hossain, junior in literature, said he thinks Peirats is adjusting well to life in the U.S.

“She is having a great time, I can tell when she talks she’s so excited to be here,” Hossain said. “Only thing she has a problem to adjust to is the timing. Meals are a lot earlier than where she’s from, and classes are a lot more flexible.”

Hossein, an international student from Dubai, said though he was excited to be a part of social life in the U.S., he also looked forward to having more freedom in choosing his own classes and schedule.

K-State’s study abroad program offers opportunities for the over 500 international students in hopes of introducing them to American students so they can learn about the American lifestyle, as well as the American college lifestyle, firsthand. Most of the international students were paired up with American roommates in the residence halls, and as well as the living community in Jardine Apartments.

At first, Peirats said she was worried about studying in a country where it would be difficult for her to speak the language. However, she is extending her stay here because she said she is determined to learn and improve.

“At first, I was going to be here for a semester to a year,” Peirats said. “But after three weeks, I already want to stay longer and hopefully graduate from this university.”

Nelson Pence, sophomore in entrepreneurship, studied in Sydney, Australia last fall. He said it was one of the best experiences of his life, but understands the issues Peirats is facing.

Pence currently works at the study abroad office in Fairchild Hall so he can give back and help students, like those in Peirats’ position, when studying abroad.

K-State study abroad offers a variety of programs from faculty lead, exchange and direct-enroll programs to more than 85 countries in every part of the world. Students choose to study abroad for many reasons, whether it be to better a resume or for the mere experience to travel the world and embark on a new journey.

For students worried about the costs, Peirats said, “There is no price for experiences you have when studying in another country. My time in Kansas State has been worth every penny.”