International Voices at UMSL

Bishesh Poudel

Bishesh Poudel, Nepal
Undergraduate, International Relations

How long have you been at UMSL?
Since January 2020

Besides English, what languages do you speak?
Nepal, Hindi

What is one custom or tradition from your home country that you miss?
Celebrating festivals and holidays with friends and family

What do you do when you feel homesick?
Mostly during the festival season (Dahain/Navaratri & Tihar/Diwali). During the holidays I usually talk with my family more frequently than other time of the year. My friends from Nepal and I usually gather together and try to make traditional food and do activities and rituals (playing card games, going to friends houses or inviting them to ours, decorating our apartments in festive ways) that we do back home for holidays. The festivals I mentioned usually conflict with fall midterms, so we end up celebrating them after exams. For us, the festivals are more about remembering the traditions from home, trying to incorporate them in our lives in the U.S., and catching up with friends while having fun in the process.

What are some things that are different about education in your home country and education in the United States?
Back home, students choose a major or field of study immediate after 10th or 12 grade. In the United States, you can take courses from various disciplines before choosing a major. I like that option a lot!

What made you choose UMSL?
Affordability, good rankings, easy commute

What is one thing you expected about St. Louis that wasn’t actually true?
I expected St. Louis to be an unsafe place to live or go to school. However, I personally haven't had any bad experiences. I now understand that the chances of being a random victim of crime are very low.

What is something about the United States that surprised you?
I expected people within and outside of the school to be very rigid and strict in following certain norms. I now realize that people are always willing to work with you and make necessary adjustments if you ask politely.

What is something about your home country that would surprise Americans?
People from all walks of life live in the same neighborhoods and go to the same school for the most part.

What advice would you give to someone from your home country traveling to the United States for the very first time?
Don't be afraid of a new culture and its people. Americans are generally friendly and will help you when in need.

What advice would you give to an American traveling to your home country for the very first time?
Don't be afraid to talk to locals. It's better if you talk to college students. That way, you will be in safe hands, and they know the best places to visit and try local cuisine for relatively cheaper prices.