News & Updates
Meet Nadia Fahmy; CLU's first Fulbright J1 Student
Nadia, a graduate student pursuing her master's in Clinical Psychology at California
Lutheran University, is a young woman on a mission. She hails from Egypt and embarked
on an incredible journey to the United States as a Fulbright J 1 exchange student.
In this interview, she shares her experiences, culture shock, and aspirations.
Nadia's journey begins with her unwavering passion for understanding people and
helping them. Her pursuit of a career in psychology led her to pursue her master's degree in the
United States. She says “Psychology has always fascinated me, drawing me towards understanding
people and helping them, which is why I chose this field”. She envisions a career
in psychology with a focus on cross-cultural studies and expresses a desire to conduct
research and integrate diverse perspectives into her work. Nadia is a traveler at
heart, having explored various countries alone since she was a teenager. Her adventurous
spirit is complemented by her love for aerial sports. She says “This is my first time
in the US, although I've traveled to Europe, Ukraine, India, and even did aerial sports
in some of these places. Traveling is a passion of mine, allowing me to explore and
meet new people, shaping my personality and experiences.
She describes her experience as a Fulbright J1 exchange student as a long and
competitive process. The application required a year and a half of dedication, including exams, interviews,
and research proposals. Nadia says: “It involves a highly competitive and lengthy
application process. It took me about a year and a half from the start of the application
to actually traveling. And it was all still so sudden, I found out details of my acceptance
a week before I was expected to fly out. The program includes various evaluations
like GRE and TOEFL, interviews, and a research proposal. It is surreal to be here
and study what I'm passionate about through this program. I never thought I would
actually get it.”. Nadia says the opportunity to study her chosen field in the U.S.
is a dream come true. She highlights the sense of community among the Fulbright scholars
in Egypt, emphasizing the program's diversity. She explains how unique this experience
is, “This is my first time having such an immersive, long-term international experience.
Not too many experiences come close to it. I have traveled for a long time, I worked
and lived in India for a few months. But this time, it’s not just traveling, it’s
for years. I used to take solo trips, and my mother sent me to an international camp
alone when I was 14. I owe my love for traveling and ability to handle it, to her
Nadia chose California Lutheran University for its strong focus on research in
clinical psychology, the picturesque campus, and its proximity to family members in
the area. Nadia appreciates the welcoming atmosphere, the various clubs, and the support for
international students, which helped her adapt to the new environment. She says, “When
applying to universities in the US, I focused on California due to having family here.
Cal Lutheran stood out due to its strong research aspect in Clinical Psychology, a
feature not common in many programs. The campus's serene ambiance and the proximity
to family were appealing. I was drawn to the smaller community, making it easier to
connect with people. My goal is to engage in diverse research areas and integrate
cross-cultural psychology into my studies.”
She shares her experiences of culture differences as she transitioned from Egypt to
the United States and mentions collectivism versus individualism, as well as the unique
ways in which people express affection and friendship. “One major difference I noticed is the individualistic nature of the US compared
to the more collectivist culture in Egypt. The concept of personal space and relationships
differs, impacting how friendships are formed and maintained. Navigating this cultural
shock has been challenging, but engaging with international student communities and
embracing the differences has helped me adapt.” The contrast in people's behavior
on the streets, especially regarding traffic, took her by surprise. She highlights
the importance of food in showing love and hospitality, as well as the nuances of
friendships and gift-giving. When asked about her family she says, “ I am the oldest
daughter, and I had duties. I used to pick up groceries every week and now my mother
does it all alone. I love my freedom but sometimes I get sad over all that I am missing.
My mother’s birthday was last month and I was on facetime as she cut her cake. She
cut out a piece for me, and brought it up to the phone and said “here, take it, it’s
yours”. Everyone there laughed, and I was holding back my tears.”
Nadia offers valuable advice to aspiring students, encouraging them to seize every
opportunity and not be afraid to ask for what they want. She emphasizes that no experience is too small and that pursuing passions is key.
Reflecting on her journey, she says “My advice to aspiring students is to don't hesitate
to step out of your comfort zone and explore. Take advantage of the events, concerts,
and clubs available to you. Additionally, never underestimate the power of asking
for what you want, whether it's in academics or personal life. To my former self,
I'd say to keep pushing through challenges, as the outcome is often worth the effort.
Stay determined and embrace the journey.” She adds, “I know it is a cliche, but there
is no better advice than; keep going, keep doing, keep trying. Listening to that advice
is the only reason that I am here.”
Nadia's story is a testament to the transformative power of education and cultural
exchange. Her journey from Egypt to California Lutheran University as a Fulbright
J 1 exchange student is an inspiring example of courage, determination, and an unwavering
passion for making a difference in the field of psychology. Nadia's experiences and
insights will undoubtedly serve as a source of inspiration for many aspiring students.