Here's our chat with Yousef, the friendly, history-loving, artistic student who is about to take the leap from the IELP to the Tyler School of Art.
NAME: Yousef Albacker
HOMETOWN: Kuwait City, Kuwait
PROGRAM: IELP, 2 sessions
IELP: Why did you choose to study in the U.S.? Why Temple?
YOUSEF: I have been hearing about Temple for many years, from my friends and other people. I heard that Philadelphia was a good place for me because I wanted to major in graphic design, and I heard that it was the best place to get inspired by art and murals. I always encourage people who come to Philadelphia to take a stroll around the city, because they will find something special there.
IELP: What was it like when you first came here?
YOUSEF: I came during winter and Philadelphia gave me a Chicago vibe because it was cold and sleeting everywhere. But I gave it a chance, and I have to say, the city is really beautiful. It’s been a long journey but it became easier.
Looking right at home on Temple's campus
IELP: How did the IELP help you to improve your English so far?
YOUSEF: It has not only helped me to improve my English, it also gave me an opportunity to meet various other people. Especially the teachers - they are very open-minded. I recently was with one of my teachers in their hometown. They showed us their community gardens.
IELP: Was there something you struggled with when you first came here that you have overcome?
YOUSEF: Not too much, because I have been in other places in the States before, like Houston, Texas. I was first at a different university in Colorado, then I was in another out west. I figured out my major there but the university didn't have it, so I decided to go to Philly.
Doing what he loves: exploring the city.
IELP: What’s been your favorite thing that you’ve seen or done since you’ve come to the U.S.?
YOUSEF: I really enjoyed being in Colorado because of the nature there. The elevation is also over 5,000 feet so you kind of felt the pressure in your brain.
IELP: If I was in Kuwait for only 24 hours, what would you tell me to see or do?
YOUSEF: I think people would tell you to go to one of our malls. But I’m the type of person who likes history, so I would say to go to Souq Al-Mubarakiya. It’s a very old market - you can find a lot of cultural items there. Old folks like to go there for their spices, so they always have something to cook.
IELP: What’s your favorite meal from your home country and how is it made?
YOUSEF: It has to be one of my mom’s meals, chicken and rice. There’s a lot of ways you can cook it. It’s basically like steamed rice and fried chicken, but it doesn’t have the same kind of coating that you would find on American fried chicken.
Kuwaiti chicken & rice is calling our name
IELP: Do you have a favorite American food?
YOUSEF: It has to be hoagies. I’ve been trying a few hoagies around the city and everybody has their own style. Now, cheesesteaks - you have to stay away from too many. It’s a major problem!
IELP: Where do you see yourself after you finish at the IELP? What do you want to do next?
YOUSEF: I was recently accepted into the Tyler School of Art at Temple. I’m going to be doing graphic design.
Future Tyler student!
IELP: That’s exciting! Are you going to live on campus?
YOUSEF: I’m going to live at University Village because it’s closest to campus. I’m currently living there through the IELP.
IELP: What are some of the things you’ve learned from going to school with people from so many different countries?
YOUSEF: Everyone has different types of history and culture, and you can learn about what are stereotypes and what aren’t. When you see so many different types of people from all over the world, there’s always this reoccurring thing: that all they deal with the the same experiences and same cultural differences.
IELP: Do you live with any other IELP students in University Village?
YOUSEF: I live with one student from Italy right now. In the beginning it can be weird because you’re not used to being together, and it takes some time to break that barrier. Now, everyone feels comfortable and we’re classmates. There was this one time I woke up and noticed that our apartment was flooded from the dishwashing machine at the same time we were having a tornado warning. There were bubbles everywhere; it looked like a horror movie. My roommates and I were jumping on tables to avoid the water and try and turn off the dishwasher. Luckily, my roommate works in electrical engineering and figured out how to turn it off. So, everybody helps each other out in the apartment!
IELP: What advice would you give to other students coming to study in the U.S.?
YOUSEF: In the beginning people will feel overwhelmed by the culture and the language, but I want to tell them that it takes some time to break that barrier. It’s not always studying, and eventually there will be some time for yourself to walk around campus and meet other people who are interested in your major. You need to have a lot of patience. Not everything comes immediately. Go outside, discover the city.
Til next time!