While a high school student in Kuwait, Abdullah Al-Khayat dreamed of coming to America for two very different reasons.
“It was mostly because the educational system is the best in the world,” he said, before smiling and admitting, “But I also love American movies.”
In his three-and-a-half years in California, Al-Khayat indulged both interests. In summer 2013, he finished his junior year as a Mechanical Engineering student at Cal State Fullerton. He also made frequent visits to nearby Hollywood, where he often came across locations used in some of his favorite films.
But it all began with ALP’s Intensive Language Program (ILP). When Al-Khayat arrived, it was first time in America. He had studied English in Kuwait, but never practiced the language with a native speaker. At ALP he not only made friends with Americans and students from all over the world, but also with teachers who he has kept in touch with throughout his time in California.
“They didn't just teach us the language; they helped us adapt to the culture and the university."
"They were amazing. They didn’t just teach us the language; they helped us adapt to the culture and the university,” he said. “I really don’t think I could have been successful here if I didn’t go through ALP first.”
Even after entering CSUF’s Mechanical Engineering program, Al-Khayat returned often to visit his former ALP teachers, mentor new students, and participate in ALP alumni panels.
“For virtually all of our students there is going to be some level of culture shock, homesickness, and an adjustment period,” said ALP faculty member Michelle Luster. “We started putting together alumni panels so that our current students could see and talk to alums who have been through the program, are in school, and are successful.”
Al-Khayat said one of the most common questions he gets is what advice he has for new students. “The answer is easy: make friends—and not just with people from your own country.”
Though he plans on moving back to Kuwait after graduating, he’s confident his English won’t suffer. He will return to the United State often, keep in touch with friends and teachers in Fullerton, and now watches American movies with the subtitles turned off.