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San Diego State University

Ferdous Esfandnia


By Michael Klitzing

Ferdous Esfandnia has an evening routine that she likes to keep. Nearly every night around 9 or 10 p.m., the psychology freshman gets on WhatsApp, FaceTime or Skype and calls home.

Home is the United Arab Emirates and, usually at that hour, her parents and three sisters are just starting their day. No matter the importance of the topics covered that day, the conversations are important to Ferdous, who is living on her own in the United States for the first time.

"It makes me feel really good,” she says. “If a day passes by where I don't speak to them, I feel like something's missing."

Recently, we chatted with Ferdous to discuss her new life in a new country, her toughest adjustment and what the future holds.

Tell me a little bit about where you're from and what brought you here.

“I'm originally Iranian, but I was born and raised in Dubai. I went to an American high school in Dubai and I studied English from the first grade until the 12th grade. In my senior year, I looked up some universities here in the U.S. where I could study psychology. In my research I saw the diversity of SDSU; how many international students there are, how many cultures there are. It's incredible here! I really liked it.”

Was the thought of coming to the United States more exciting or frightening?

“It was both. I really wanted to come to the U.S., but at the same time I was nervous because I would be alone here and away from my family and I was only 17. I was also scared that people would not be very welcoming, but people were very, very welcoming. I love it here. The people are amazing.”

What did your family think at first?

“My family had come to the U.S. before as tourists, and they actually recommended that I come to San Diego.” 

What surprised you the most when you got here?

“I thought people here would kind of stick to their own friends and not really make friends with new people and interact with them. But it's really easy to make friends with people at SDSU.” 

What has been the hardest adjustment?

“The hardest part was settling in and being away from family. It's really hard for me. I'm used to coming home after high school and having all these people there. Now I come home and all my flatmates are in class, and there's no one to say ‘hi’ to. It's kind of difficult. First semester was really difficult for me, but it's getting easier.”

So you've gotten homesick at times?

“Yeah, usually on weekends because I would always spend that with my family or sometimes friends. Fridays are always family days, so we'd go out together and talk about our week. I sometimes see pictures from back home and I get really upset (laughs). But it's OK! I chose this and I want to be here.” 

What interests you about psychology and where are you hoping that leads?

“I've always wanted to study psychology since the ninth grade. It's just really interesting to me to learn about human behavior, how people think, how people react. I've found the Department of Psychology to be really good here at San Diego State. I really want to get my doctorate in clinical psychology - hopefully in the U.S.”

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