Asif Rahman remembers sitting in his seat during the long airplane flight from his home in Bangladesh, wondering what life would be like for him once he landed in Texas.
Rahman, who was coming to study at the University of Houston, had never been to the United States. His only knowledge of Texas was what he had seen in the movies.
"The first thing I thought was that everyone would be saying ‘Howdy!’ to me," he said.
That and other Texas stereotypes were quickly shattered, however, once he had a chance to find out about his new adopted hometown and UH. It’s been a year since he first got here, and now he fully understands just how culturally diverse the population is.
Rahman, who will be a sophomore when the fall semester arrives, is spending his summer working part-time for the UH Dining marketing team. The summer is a busy time for new student orientations, and so he has spent quite a bit of time at them talking with incoming students about dining services and the meal plans that are offered.
The one-on-one interactions, he said, have allowed him to refine his social skills and made him much more comfortable talking to strangers.
"Before, I would get nervous and stammer a lot, but now I have learned how to keep calm and express myself," he said. "It comes much more naturally to me now."
Rahman, who plans to double major in supply chain management and accounting, graduated from high school in Bangladesh in 2010 and studied at a university in his home country. When his parents told him they would be supportive of him studying overseas, he jumped at the opportunity. Since he had an aunt already living in Houston with whom he could stay, picking UH was an easy choice.
Living with his aunt helped ease the transition to being in a new country and lessen the culture shock he experienced. The best part? He’s able to enjoy traditional food from Bangladesh that his aunt prepares.
"The culture and the traditions here are a lot different. So it was a lot to take in at first," Rahman said. "But since I am living with my aunt, I must say that I never feel that I am away from home."
One thing he did not have to get used to was the weather. His home country also has a hot climate, although he says Houston is a bit more humid.
He is still trying to get used to American football, however, and understanding how it is played.
"I can’t wait for our new football stadium to open. I have learned some of the rules of football from my friends. I don’t understand completely, but I am trying to," he said.