Physics student from Dubai finds his own way to K-State

Faisal Almadani, of the United Arab Emirates, is a junior in physics. (Mariah Stadel | The Collegian)

From the streets of Dubai to the plains of Kansas with a stop in California in between, Faisal Almadani found an indirect way to attend Kansas State as an international student.

Almadani, junior in physics, did not grow up in the United States. Instead, he calls the United Arab Emirates, a Middle Eastern country roughly the size of South Carolina, home. Almadani shared a few of the reasons he chose to finish his physics degree in the United States.

Almadani said he chose America because its universities boast a superior education.

“A degree from an American university will guarantee a job anywhere in the world,” Almadani said.

Beyond the superior education, he likes the culture here as well.

“People are very friendly and accepting,” he said. “Even when you make them feel uncomfortable, they won’t act rude about it, they’ll just play it off.”

Almadani started his collegiate career at a community college in California. To get accepted into the program, Almadani had to take English and math entry exams. He aced the English test, but did not score as highly as he desired in the math portion.

“I had to start at an elementary math level and work my way up to calculus,” Almadani said.

He did not regret going, though. Almadani said he enjoyed it, saying it was cheap, and that he met a lot of interesting people there. So why Kansas State afterward?

Almadani said he did not enjoy the cost of living in Los Angeles, where his one-bedroom apartment cost nearly $1,700 per month, not including utilities.

“That kind of money could rent a house three times its size in Kansas,” Almadani said.

K-State was a good fit. It was cheaper for out-of-state tuition and presented an opportunity for a large scholarship. While happy at K-State, Almadani said he misses his California days.

“I had a fantasy to ‘party’ in California, and I did, for five years,” Almadani said. “Now, I need to focus on my future, and focus on my wallet.”

Almadani added that his academics are the primary objective during his career at college. A bachelor’s degree in physics is his goal.

“No one cares what American college your physics degree came from,” Almadani said.

Alongside K-State, Almadani also received offers from UCLA, the University of Southern California, the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Texas. K-State was the right option because the school was “very accommodating,” he said. At present, Almadani is unsure of what to do with his degree.

Almadani plans to pursue a dual major in economics along with his physics degree. He said his experience with his advisers was very positive, as they were able to shoehorn his economics degree into his plans.

His only complaint so far with the program is the way it is taught.

“The main focus for professors is setting us up for a graduate program,” Almadani said.

Currently, he has no plans to continue into the graduate program.

Almadani also said he was frustrated with his schooling back home.

“My family grew up poor, so we went to public schools,” he said. “There is no government scholarship in the Emirates.”

The public school system in the UAE is lacking in resources, including financial aid.

“After awhile, my father started a business and was able to send us to private schools, which allowed me to get accepted into college here in America,” Almadani said.

“Thank goodness,” he added.

Almadani sees college as temporary now, but is still enjoying it. He copes with the stress from his program by studying anywhere between two and six hours a day.

“It is a lot of work, but that is why I’m here,” Almadani said. “If the professor surprised us with a calculus exam tomorrow, I’m confident I’d be able to get at least a B.”

He said he believes his study schedule makes college easier and less stressful.

So far, he finds Moore Hall satisfactory. Next year, he said he hopes to live in a three-bedroom house, which should save him $500-$800 per semester.

“I’ve done the math,” Almadani said.

Almadani’s current roommate, Bailey Base, freshman in mathematics, said he is enjoying the opportunity to live with Almadani. The two get along well, and both are studying similar subjects, which helps them bond together.

“We spend lot of time together doing homework,” Base said.

Both students are in the same calculus class and spend a lot of time doing homework problems together on a whiteboard in the floor lobby.

“It allows us to write bigger, so we can both work on problems together,” Base said. “It’s kind of like a game for us.”

Joey Dunlap, junior in art, said he enjoys having Almadani on his floor.

“It’s a good time having him around,” Dunlap said.

Dunlap said he feels like the opportunity is teaching him more about places like the UAE.

“It’s really cool learning about the culture from a different country,” Dunlap said.

If he had to summarize his experience with the American college system, Almadani said, “People are awesome, the weather is okay. I am looking forward to the future.”