Sfouk Al Jarba is an international student in his final year at Eastern Michigan University located in Ypsilanti, USA. He was born and brought up in Jordan before embarking on his journey abroad to complete his undergraduate education in International Affairs and Psychology.


Choosing the United States

Sfouk attended a small high school in Jordan and took part in extra-curricular activities such as Model United Nations and the soccer team. He enjoyed his schooling in his home country, however, when it came time to apply for university, he realised that he yearned for more diversity in his academic environment.

After extensive research, Sfouk discovered that Eastern Michigan University (EMU) not only had an excellent International Affairs program – which he wanted to study – but it also had one of the most diverse campuses in the state of Michigan with over 1,000 international students attending the institution. Sfouk desired to engage with and learn from different cultures and he believed that the US had the variety and diversification he was looking to experience.


A Double Major for a Wider Perspective

Sfouk possesses what he likes to call “big-picture” thinking. It was with this thinking that he developed a strong interest in global affairs and politics from a young age. “These subjects let me take a step back and view the big picture so I can be sure about the actions I take and the choices I make,” he says. This is what led him to choose International Affairs as one of his majors.

After starting university, Sfouk realised that studying Psychology could help him attain his future career goals. He enrolled in an Introduction to Psychology class and later, opted to choose the subject as his second major field of study. Sfouk is interested in humanitarian work, and the study of psychology helps him understand other perspectives and how to communicate with people from all around the world.

“The two majors work well together – international affairs give me a “big picture” understanding and psychology gives me the skills to work effectively with people from all over the world,” he explains.


Adjusting to University Life in Ypsilanti, Michigan

Sfouk admits to us that upon moving to the United States, he missed his family and his home tremendously. He adds, however, that Eastern Michigan University offered him a friendly atmosphere and a safe place where he has successfully made a second home.

“The people at EMU are kind, helpful and outgoing; the community is just as warm and welcoming as in my own home town,” he says.

There are many students from the Middle East attending the university, and even a few from Jordan. The university’s International Student Association regularly holds events to help overseas students connect with others and just have a fun time. Sfouk informs us that the town has a large international student population and they are quite active on campus. He elaborates that there are all kinds of people who attend EMU whose shared experiences, perspectives and cultures are what make the campus a vibrant and interesting place.

EMU’s Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) helps international students from the moment they arrive in the United States. “They provide useful information about campus life and also organise international coffee hours where students can ask questions and discuss issues such as culture shock and learning in a new language,” he says.

Though a small town, Sfouk explains that Ypsilanti has many interesting places and events to discover like the Ypsi Farmer’s Market, local coffee shops, open mic nights, international restaurants and talks at the local library. Located within easy access to bigger cities like Ann Arbor, Detroit and even Chicago, Ypsilanti is a wonderful place for students to live and study.


Getting Involved

Sfouk is active in several organisations around campus such as Student Government, where he helps look out for the best interests of the student body and the Stoic Society, an organisation that aids the local community. He participates in the United Nations Association, an organisation that offers students an opportunity to practice diplomacy, negotiation and public speaking. Sfouk is also a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, a fraternity that was founded on the three principles of love, charity and esteem. “I joined some organisations in order to give back and help the local community and I became active in others to help me grow as an individual,” he comments.

Having an on-campus job has also been an eye-opening and enriching experience for Sfouk. Working in the International Admissions office, he interacts with students from different cultures and helps them overcome any difficulties that they might face while applying to the university. “I work hard to make the application process as simple as possible for overseas students because I know the challenges they might face. I love talking to students from across the globe and sharing my EMU experience with them,” he says.


Grow and Flourish at EMU

Sfouk encourages international students to apply to EMU; he says that the environment and class structure is conducive to helping students learn and it encourages them to follow their interests and achieve their goals.

“The faculty wants to see you grow and they continuously guide you throughout your time at the university. Many of my professors have told me that class is not everything; they encourage me to seek to learn new things beyond the four walls of the classroom,” he comments.

In this vein, the university offers credits for what they call “learning beyond the classroom” and every student is encouraged to attend the special events. These events can range from guest speakers to diversity dinners, but they all provide students with opportunities to gain knowledge and experience by speaking to professionals or even other fellow students.

If you are interested in applying to Eastern Michigan University, find out more about the university on SchoolApply, and start your application today!