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Exchange student enjoys Louisiana culture

By Andrea Nedorostova
On April 25, 2012

In January, Soukaina Chihab boarded an airplane. She was scared-she had never been out of her native African country. America would be the first country she ever visited. Natchitoches and NSU would become her second home for one semester. 

The 21-year-old Moroccan student majoring in management decided to improve her English and participate in the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP). 


"When I came here, I was thinking that I am in a movie," Chihab said. "Everything is different; it is not like Morocco at all. Even the way how you cross the street is different. People say 'hi' to you even if they don´t know you-it doesn´t exist nowhere else."


As the first student from the Al Akhawayn University (AUI) to participate in the exchange program at NSU, Chihab said NSU was one of her three choices in Louisiana along with LSU and Loyola University of New Orleans.      


NSU had an open slot, so she came for the spring semester.


"I regret not doing a one-year exchange," Chihab, a junior, said.       


"I cannot change it now. You have to plan it before you go. I am leaving in May, and I will feel nostalgia when I leave. I am 21, and this is the best experience of my life." 


Sixty students from Chihab´s university are studying in America this semester.


"We all went to a different place because if we would be together, we would communicate in our language and learn nothing," she said. "My friends are in Virginia, Arizona, California, New York and Washington, D.C. We all love it."


Chibab is multilingual. She is French-educated, and she also speaks Arabic, English and Spanish. She said her peers at home do not speak enough English. But when they leave Morocco, English is the only language everybody knows.


Chihab has met many people at NSU, but the first person she befriended was a Spanish exchange student, Ana Garcia, who showed her around the campus.   


"Ana and I went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and it was so much fun," Chihab said. 


When asked about her experience at NSU, Chihab smiled and said, "I like a lot that the campus is big in comparison with my university in Morocco. I like my dorm, the Columns, where I live. Professors are cool-I like them more than my professors in Morocco. The only problem here for me is transportation."


If any NSU students would like to enjoy an experience similar to Chibab's, the International Student Exchange Program here on campus can help students who are interested in participating. 


ISEP comprises a network of over 275 U.S. and international universities. The application process involves much paperwork so students are encouraged to start as early as possible.

      For more information contact Dr. Steve Horton at

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