Each semester, Shawnee State University welcomes dozens of international students from all over the world. One of these students, Hoorab Romail, considers it a miracle that she ended up in the small town of Portsmouth, Ohio.
Romail is an international student from Gujranwala, Pakistan. She comes from a Christian family with five siblings, but now lives in a large city by herself as a University student.
“I came from a big city that is very crowded,” Romil said, “so when I came here, it seemed quiet. When people told me that Portsmouth was dangerous (because of) drug addiction and crime, I had no idea. I like going outside and walking around. In Pakistan, I should not walk around by myself because it is even more dangerous than Portsmouth.”
Programs like UGRAD make a way for students to study abroad, but the chances of being chosen are very slim. Out of 10,000 students who apply to be a part of the research program, 450 are brought back for interviews. Out of that 450, only 100 students are selected for this opportunity.
“It’s very competitive.” Romil said. “If you’re chosen, you’re considered very lucky. I can’t give credit to myself, I have to give credit to God. I prayed a lot to be able to come. It was like a miracle in my life.”
“They place students according to their major. I was placed at Shawnee because I’m going into education. I love Shawnee. I don’t want to have to go back. When I think about going back in mid-December, I get sad, because of how many amazing friends I have made since I’ve been here.”
Unlike Shawnee, Romil attends a Christian University in Pakistan. She is passionate about her faith, and one reason she has enjoyed being in Portsmouth is because she has been able to connect with other Christians. Romil has become very active on campus with different organizations, especially with the campus ministries.
“Without any doubt, my favorite part has been Innermission and Illuminate.” Romil said. “Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my favorite days of the week, because that is when we meet, and I get to sing and pray and meet new people.”
There are many ways to compare Portsmouth to Pakistan. However, according to Romil, the best difference that comes with being in the United States is the freedom of speech.
“People are so open here.” Romil said. “They are honest about what they want. No means no and yes means yes. You do not have to hide what you want to say.”
People in Portsmouth have been very welcoming to Romil, and she has appreciated it and enjoyed her stay.