Inside USD

Abdullah Al-Owisi, Kuwait

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The University of San Diego’s annual All Faith Service is Thursday, Feb. 2 at 12:15 p.m. in Shiley Theatre. The campus community comes together for a diverse experience through faith traditions. Several USD international students will serve as flag-bearing representatives of their respective countries. Inside USD chose five students and asked them to share insights about their home country and their USD experience.

Where were you born?

I was born in Kuwait. Kuwait is a rather small country so we don’t really have major cities. The capital is Kuwait city. I’ve been there, but I have pretty much been almost everywhere in the country because it is so small.

How long have you lived in Kuwait? Do you still live there during school breaks and will you return to live there after you finish school?

I’ve lived in Kuwait all my life, and yes, I still live there, and go back almost every summer and winter. Yes, I will eventually go back and live there when I finish my education.

What are some fond memories of Kuwait?

All of my friends and family live there so I have many fond memories of Kuwait. Holidays like Eid, Liberation and National Day, the times when the whole country celebrates and you have a great time with family and friends, are the most common good memories.

How different is Kuwait now than 10-15 years ago?

Kuwait is a young country and gained independence in 1961. It is constantly growing and becoming more technologically innovative and urban. The only major difference is the Gulf War that occupied the region in 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

Can you share some cultural thoughts about Kuwait?

The language is Arabic, the favorite food has to be ‘machboos deyay’ (basically rice with chicken, the most popular local dish), the most popular sport is soccer, and local Arabic music is popular along with general mainstream English music. Kuwait is mostly known for its oil, it is a country rich in this natural resource.

If you were a tour guide for others visiting Kuwait, where would you go?

I’d say the Kuwait towers are the most significant and unique landmarks located along the Arabian Gulf, overlooking the water. The beach area is very popular as many people have beach houses. Visitors can go to the downtown area and go to the malls and restaurants for a taste of a more urban Kuwait.

What’s a misconception people have about Kuwait?

I guess a common misconception might be the idea that since Kuwait is located in the Middle East that it isn’t safe, but it’s one of the safest places you could live.

How did you hear about USD? Major?

I had a friend from Kuwait recommend it, as he was here before me and he put in a good word. I am a junior, majoring in business finance.

Describe your experience as an international student at USD?

It has been a wonderful experience so far. People are so friendly, nice and helpful. Having so many other international students from all over the world, including quite a few from Kuwait, made the accommodations very easy. It has been nice having the independence and responsibility of living abroad on my own and taking care of myself and, in all honesty, the people around me have made that so much easier. The community here is very helpful and kind.

What are your thoughts about American culture? Has it been a difficult adjustment?

I was exposed to a lot of American culture when I attended an American school in Kuwait from kindergarten all the way through high school. I was also exposed to all of the pop culture and media (music, movies, television, magazines). Coming here for the first time, and actually living it, has been nothing short of exceptional. It was not difficult to adjust at all as all of the people around me helped me out, from my American roommates, to a friend from Kuwait who also went to school here, and all of the new friends I’ve made here so far. Once people know you’re not from here, they are keen to help you out, learn about where you’re from, and make sure you feel right at home. Studying abroad, especially in San Diego, at USD was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life, and one of the most important. It has surely helped me grow and to become a better person.

The All Faith Service provides a chance to represent Kuwait and carry your flag. How do you feel about representing Kuwait in this event?

I feel very proud to carry my country’s flag and represent my country alongside people from all over the world. It is both an honor and a privilege that I have the opportunity to do this.

Describe Kuwait in one sentence:

A small, loving community that gets very hot during the summer.

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