From France to Cornell
At Cornell, I worked with brilliant people from all over the world; we shared knowledge, work techniques, and values.
Why did you choose to study at Cornell University?
Before applying to Cornell, I had done plenty of research on the university academically. The more I learned about it, the more I realized that it was the ideal fit for me. I came to Cornell as a PhD candidate studying U.S. public diplomacy efforts in the Middle East and North Africa, with special focus on Tunisia.
My thesis topic had an exciting yet challenging interdisciplinary nature. The good news was that Cornell offered seminars in different fields of relevancy to my research project—like International Relations, Near Eastern Studies, Law, and Government. The better news was that I could enroll for whichever I wanted. It was a genuine opportunity to cross these disciplines’ traditional boundaries and draw conclusions across them. Cornell also ranks among the best universities in the world, with its internationally renowned professors, incredibly resourceful libraries, and a campus unique in its vastness and beauty.
The Ivy League school has what it takes to attract students and scholars from every corner of the globe, and I was delighted to get the chance to be part of its international community.
Describe a typical day for you on the Cornell campus.
I usually started my day at Cornell with a warm cup of coffee at Libe Café before heading to neighboring Olin Library where I would do some reading until midday. My seminars usually took place in the afternoon, most of them at White Hall. They have always been an opportunity to interact with classmates and teachers around interesting topics, which I would eventually further discuss with my advisor.
I often took some time to enjoy a quiet moment at the Arts Quad, or to work by the windows of Uris Library for I liked the views of Ithacan lakes from afar. Every now and then, I would meet with my fellow members of Cornell Political Union, an association of which I was the community manager. We would go to Klarman Hall for that, a nice co-working space right around the corner, with food and coffee. Friday remained my favorite day of the week with its classic “Tell Grads It’s Friday” at the Big Red Barn, in addition to the cultural events and sport competitions that take place all day.
What was something surprising that you saw, learned, or experienced at Cornell?
Cornell has a community of Arab and Muslim students that contribute, like the rest of the international community on campus, to making Cornell the captivating haven of cultural diversity that it is. I was happily surprised to see that, during the Holy Month of Ramadan, students and researchers of Muslim faith had the chance to gather every night to break their fast together in a warm atmosphere at Anabel Taylor Hall.
I was even more pleased to see students and researchers from other faiths and cultures join their Muslim friends to share the experience and discover Middle-Eastern and North-African dishes. I eventually came to understand that Anabel Taylor Hall was home for the Cornell United Religious Work, whose mission consists in promoting interfaith dialogue on campus, and whose initiatives I found remarkable.
How do you expect your Cornell experience will affect your future?
At Cornell, I worked with brilliant people from all over the world; we shared knowledge, work techniques, and values. Everything I have had the chance to learn will serve me in my future endeavors wherever I might be, in regard to my education and my career. Public speaking, event organization, teamwork, and debate are some of the skills that I improved at Cornell. They will certainly be of use for future me, the academician or the practitioner.
What advice would you give other international students who are thinking about studying at Cornell?
Try to make the most of every day spent on campus! There is so much to see and do, and you do not want to miss it. Join associations and clubs, make friends, reach out to teachers, go to sport events and cultural shows, and work seriously in class or at the lab. Cornell is a moment of opportunity—you will grow intellectually and morally, but rest assured you shall have fun in the process.