Photo: Photo Courtesy of Kadirbyek Sailau
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Iowa South Through an International Lens

With three colleges in the area, the Iowa South region is proud to be home to many academic opportunities and a diverse group of learners, including international students.

At Maharishi International University (MIU) alone, over 90 countries are represented on their campus. Selin Ozbudak, MIU’s assistant vice president of enrollment and student affairs, was once an international student at the school herself. 

“There is so much to like about life in Iowa."

“In every new student enrolling and starting to explore life here on campus, I see myself and I think of what would have helped me in any given situation when I was in their shoes,” Ozbudak shares. 

Sailau at Pleasant Lake

As she assists students with enrollment, Ozbudak finds that one reason international students study at MIU is for its strong academics.

For MIU student Kadirbyek Sailau his college choice was based on MIU’s experience and for their assistance in finding a job in the U.S. after he graduates. 

Sailau, originally from Mongolia, is pursuing his master’s in computer science, but in his free time, he’s getting to know the Iowa South region by spending a lot of time in the great outdoors.

“Perfect place for nature lovers,” Sailau says of his summer days spent fishing, swimming, biking, and exploring Iowa’s trails. 

The international students at Indian Hills Community College (IHCC) get to enjoy similar experiences. 

Yulduz Muradova, a second-year student from Turkmenistan, spends her weekends in Ottumwa picnicking with friends, road tripping to nearby cities, and trying new dishes at local restaurants. 

“I really loved the downtown area, and Ottumwa looks really beautiful at night time with the bridges lit with all those blue lights,” Muradova says. 

Muradova and friends exploring hiking trails through Garrison Rock

Though she was a little worried about making such a large move away from friends and family, Muradova felt welcomed to Iowa thanks to the friendliness and warmth of the people in her community. 

Roi Kedar, a first-year student from Isreal at IHCC, shares Yulduz’s experience. 

“At Indian Hills, I met so many people from different backgrounds which makes it so unique,” Kedar says. “The local people I met so far are really nice and always try to help.”

It’s that kind and neighborly community that is one of the reasons Ozbudak still calls Iowa South home. 

“There is so much to like about life in Iowa; in my opinion, peace and safety are priorities,” Ozbudak says. “Days are longer and brighter. We inhale clean air and drink clean water. Our kids play in the parks as safe as it can be, and we know who our neighbors are.”

International students considering schools in the area will find it a welcoming and adventurous place to live thanks to community kindness, nearby events like art walks and farmers markets, a variety of dining options, and a multitude of outdoor recreation opportunities. 

“Going out of one's comfort zone is hard but extremely rewarding,” Ozbudak says. “My humble advice for the international fellas is not to be afraid of the unknown and to visit the places they never have.”

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