A Year in the Fulbright Life: Muhammad’s Story
For the next year, Fulbright MENA will be showcasing a handful of students as they study in the United States with their new series, A Year in the Fulbright Life. Each month, spotlighted students will share an update as they continue on their Fulbright journey.
Egpytian Fulbrighter Muhammad recently arrived at the University of Arizona where he will be begin his Master’s studies.
He shared photos of his introductory event at graduate housing as well as photos from his tour of campus.
Stay tuned for more photos from Muhammad at he settles in on campus.
“Since I arrived on campus last month, I participated in the Buddy Program at the University of Arizona. This program connects international students and American students to meet with new students and help them settle in and get to know the culture. We played pool and my favorite- table tennis. It was a great way to meet people from different cultures and get to know them more, especially since so many of them are interested in the science fields like me!”
October has been busy here in Arizona. I attended my first football game and even though I didn’t know the rules, Arizona’s team was so good that I could not stop cheering for them! We won the game by a large margin.
We also had an “Egyptian Day” for students learning Arabic (Egyptian colloquial), and a friend and I cooked Kushari (a traditional Egyptian meal) and wore traditional Egyptian attire for students. Students and professors loved the food and atmosphere we created.
We have a small family of Fulbrighters who gather for coffee every once in a while and check on each other. They are majoring in many interesting fields and certainly making a change in their communities. This time’s theme was “Brazilian and Turkish (Arabic) Coffee” which was an amazing gathering.
Among the many benefits of international education is the immersion experience, in which you are introduced to new cultures, traditions, and most importantly people. I “tried” to play American football with some American friends to understand why it is very popular here, but I guess it is not similar to soccer (our football) as I ended up breaking my glasses. Fortunately it was not too bad, but it was quite the experience!
I was fortunate to be invited by my host family to Thanksgiving dinner. I got to know more about them and the culture and how and why it is celebrated. The food was traditional and amazing and the company was exquisite.
I visited a neighborhood called Winterhaven where they have a Festival of Lights that started in 1949. The houses are decorated with beautiful lights in various shapes and sizes and compete for best decoration and humor and other categories. Hundreds of people visit the neighborhood to enjoy the light festival. I realized that there is more to Tucson than just what meets the eye.
My host family has visited Egypt and told me they yearn for the traditional food. As a devout Egyptian epicure, I could not help but invite them to a most traditional meal: Koshari. They invited some friends and family and it was a fabulous night of sharing stories about traditions and cultures in the Egypt, United States, Pakistan, and China.
I returned to playing squash this month. To say the least, this is one of the most amazing sports out there. It also happens that Egyptians are ranked the highest internationally in this game J Embracing the stereotypes!
Among all the mid-terms, papers, and assigned reading chapters, we should all take a moment and enjoy the simple things. This was my view from the balcony where I enjoyed the view of mountains and (thankfully) far far away snow :)
I was asked to give a presentation about what it means to be a Fulbrighter (including sharing my culture with them) and encourage students and Faculty to apply from the University of Arizona to the Fulbright Program. I met U.S. Fulbrighters, as well as others from many countries and it was a delightful day to share my experience and listen to theirs.
My host family invited me to join them to visit some tourist sites around Tucson. We visited some museums and churches but my-all-time favorite was San Xavier del Bac (or the White Dove of the Desert) located on a Native American reservation. The architecture was European and the paintings and statues were brought from Spain. It was phenomenal!
I visited the Tucson Desert Museum. It was a lovely experience to know more about the Hispanic history of Tucson and more about the local culture. Many of the things I saw reminded me of the Egyptian countryside- striking similarities which accentuate the global brotherhood of nations.
I was invited to a family dinner at my friend’s place, and met this amazing steel statute and we became good friends by the end of the dinner. She (the statue) is a locally hand-made exquisite piece of art.
Visiting the Grand Canyon has always been a dream. Its grandeur, scenery and colors did not bore me for a second. I advise everyone on the West Coast to visit and enjoy.
I lived in Alexandria,Egypt for two years and this scene of the Santa Monica Pier was very close to my heart as it reminded me of home and friends. The place hosts many different nationalities so it’s a great place to make new friends.
Muhammad is a second-year Fulbright student at the University of Arizona where he is working towards an MA in Islamic Studies. He is from Egypt.
Follow updates from Muhammad and other Fulbright students on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Check back here every month for more updates on the blog and Medium Series to see what Muhammad does this year!
Read more Fulbright stories here.