When international students walk into Murray State classes, they quickly realize there are some major differences from their universities.
David Jephthah, freshman from Nigeria, said the relationship between professor and student is more relaxed than in Nigerian universities.
“Studying in Murray is the definition of a flexible system of education,” he said. “I can walk up to any of my professors when I have questions, unlike my country’s educational system where you have to follow protocols before gaining access to professors.”
A flexible education system and a good student-to-professor ratio allows for quick learning and better communication between students and professors at the University, Jephthah said.
While Nigerian education tends to rely on online courses, Murray State offers outside educational experiences, changing the way students learn, he said.
When Jephthah wants to participate in educational extracurricular programs on campus, he never struggles to find one, he said.
“The Curris Center is always up to the task by providing informative programs I benefit from every time,” Jephthah said.
The extracurricular facilities are an additional perk Murray State offers international students, Jephthah said. At his home university, sporting events are free but students are charged a monthly fee for access to the gym.
“I have free access to the gym and I can go see the basketball games anytime it’s on,” he said.
Not all the differences are good though.
“I was not allowed to join the school (basketball) team because I am a freshman,” he said. “This is not so in my country. In my former school, you can join the school team whenever you want to irrespective of your status.”
Despite restrictions on sports teams, the University’s system of writing out assignment schedules and providing students with syllabi helps improve understanding of what professors expect from students each semester, he said.
In Nigeria, assignments aren’t typically pre-scheduled. Instead they’re assigned when the lecturer feels like it, Jephthah said.
There’s no excuse for failure in a Murray State course when every due date is scheduled for students in advance, he said.
Professors write out the path to success in their syllabuses, Jephthah said.
Assignments are scheduled with deadlines by professors to help students in studying what has been learned during the week, said Kenneth Allen, professor of mathematics.
While the assignments are pre-planned, many classes share due dates. Dealing with the onslaught of assignments from multiple courses is a struggle, Yoon Jae Kim, sophomore from Korea, said.
“I still have difficulty in meeting up with deadlines due to the fact that I have multiple courses with the same deadlines,” Kim said. “Starting my homework early and not waiting for deadline has been a great strategy for me in handling deadlines.”
Yumeko Yoshihiro, freshman from Japan, said she chose Murray State because of the emphasis on academics.
But attending classes and taking quizzes does not limit Yoshihiro from doing other extracurricular activities like cooking and shopping with friends, she said.
“Murray Campus is concentrated on learning and that is why it’s my choice of school,” said Yoshihiro.
But the learning experience is still dotted with homesickness and some culture shock, she said.
The differences between home and Murray State started reminding Yoshiro of what was missing from university life in the U.S.
“I really miss my country, especially the food, weather and my family,” Yoshihiro said.
Story by Emmanuel Adu, Contributing writer