Student Stories

Tina Shirasu

My name is Tina Shirasu and I am an international student from Japan. I started attending Western in 2013 and I am majoring in Early Childhood Education in the Woodring College of Education. I set my heart on Western due to the strong Education program. Woodring's vision "to advance knowledge, honor diversities and promote social justice" is an idea I share and am strongly passionate about.

Throughout my academic career at Western, I was blessed with many caring and inspiring educators. These encounters made me decide on becoming a teacher and working my goal to make the same impact to my future students. The classes I have taken so far at Western have broadened my knowledge and opened new doors for me. They have influenced me to further my knowledge in various areas and think critically about global issues. Not only are the materials taught in classes relevant to various field of studies, it has taught me to ask questions, think deeper and to relate it other subject areas.

My very first quarter during freshman year, I enrolled in the Bridge Program. I believe that it has benefited me very much and was a great start to my college life in the United States. The Bridge Program consists of Communication 101, English 100 and Seminar 100. These core classes have helped me build a firm foundation for other classes here at Western Washington University and were a great introduction to American college life. By taking these classes I was able to learn what was expected in classrooms, build valuable relationships with professors and bond with other incoming freshman international students. The relationships that I formed with faculty and students during that time are something that I still cherish now.

I love walking to class every morning admiring the nature that surrounds our beautiful campus. One of the places that I love to spend time studying or hanging out with friends is the Viking Union cafe. Nothing beats great coffee and a comfortable place to quietly study or chat with friends! The WWU community and most of all the International Student & Scholar Services has helped me so much and made me feel comfortable in my “home away from home”.

I decided to apply to and attend Western due to its mission statement, "Active minds, Changing Lives". Western provides higher education and opportunities for students to learn and compete in the global word. I believe my experience here at Western Washington University will be a great asset for my future.

Xiaotian Sun

My name is Xiaotian Sun.  I am an international student from Chengdu, Sichuan, China. I am currently a junior and majoring Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management. The reason why I chose Western is because a family friend used to go to school here and she highly recommended Western to me. And when I came here, I just knew that I made the right choice.

Having spent my last four years at Western, I have made a lot of friends from all over the world. Western is a relatively small school with approximately 15,000 people. Its small class style makes you have more opportunities to talk to your classmates and be friends with them. I think it is especially good for international students to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. There are all kinds of students clubs which can help you blend in with a big group of people who have some similarities with you. I personally am one of the members of CSA (Chinese Student Association). We have regular meeting every quarter and will host some events like “Chinese Lunar New Year Dinner” once a year.

One thing that I love about Western the most is its location. Our school is located in Bellingham, Washington, which is a small town and has a quite relaxing lifestyle. Bellingham is also located between two big cities in North America, Seattle and Vancouver. During weekdays, I think it is good to stay in Bellingham because there is not that much distraction here, you can really focus on your study. During weekends, my favorite activity is to take a small trip to Seattle or Vancouver with my friends. Therefore, I can maintain a good balance between studying and entertainment. Another thing I love about Western is its student rec center, which includes a swimming pool, a hot tub, a weight room, a running track, and two basketball courts. I go to the rec center five days a week doing weightlifting, sometimes playing basketball. I see exercising as a great way to release pressures from study. 

My major, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management, is one of the best programs I’ve ever seen. The whole program is like a big community, people really care about you. They want you to be fully prepared when you graduate. You need to complete two internships in order to reach graduation requirements. Every student in our major has a student mentor and an industry mentor, who can give you advice on student life and future career path.

I love my experience at Western. Hope to see you here!

MaiAnh Nguyen

My name is MaiAnh Nguyen from Vietnam, one of many international students at Western. Western is located in Bellingham, a small city in the Pacific Northwest, just a 1.5 hour drive north of Seattle, and a 1 hour 15 minute drive south of Vancouver, Canada. I transferred to Western from Edmonds Community College in 2012 and received my Bachelors degree in 2014 in Management Information Systems and Accounting. I will be working as a .Net developer at an IT consulting firm in Sterling, Virginia, this September. The classes at Western are challenging, and almost always have group projects, but my peers are smart and determined to do their best, and the professors are helpful by answering my questions in class and providing office hours for additional discussions. 

During my study at Western, I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the US and the world, share and learn about different cultures, make friends and memories. One of my many fond memories was founding, coordinating and participating in monthly international cooking classes where Western students and international students cook together and learn about each others' culture through delicious cuisine. One of the many places that I often go to on campus is the international student and study abroad offices because there are friendly and helpful staff that are always willing to help me with general questions, academic and family concerns, getting a drivers license, applying for OPT, how to study abroad, or any other matters. 

Western has provided me a higher education with valuable academic and social skills, people and memories, cultures and food! My experiences here has been positive and I hope it will be for you as well!

Wajeha Arshad

My name is Wajeha Arshad and I graduated from Western’s College of Business and Economics with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Operations Management with a minor in Economics. I am an international student from Oman.

For my higher education, I wanted to enroll in a university that not only offered an excellent education, but also provided opportunities for career advancement and cultural exchange. Based on my experience at the university, I can confidently say that Western has exceeded all my expectations!

Western has a very stimulating academic environment. Most of my classes involved a great mix of theoretical knowledge, group projects, and real world application. My operations management classes toured distribution centers and factories of companies like Boeing, Target, PACCAR, Kaas Tailored, and REI to learn how the concepts we discussed in class were applied in a business setting. The College of Business and Economics has strong relationships with various American organizations, so throughout the academic year, we students can take advantage of amazing networking events, career fairs, and guest lectures.

At Western, I also had the pleasure of meeting several people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Through ISSS, I got the unique opportunity to lead and be part of Western’s Cross-Cultural Student Association (CCSA). CCSA is a club that promotes cultural awareness within Western’s student community. The club organizes discussions, games, and events that showcase performances, traditional clothing, food, and other cultural activities. I highly encourage all incoming students to join CCSA. It’s a great way to make friends!

My experience at Western has truly been incredible. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Viking and I am looking forward to the next part of my journey!

Western International Students in the News

"Buddy program pairs exchange students to help meet people". The Western Front. 29 September 2015

Article on International Buddy Program, featuring Buddy Program Coordinator Taiya Brown and exchange student Haruka Kasugai (Japan)


"iLEAD - My Study Abroad Experience". 7 October 2014

Video by exchange student Laura Piggott (Australia)


"I am a Western Student". 18 September 2014

Video featuring Batu Dashnyam (Mongolia) and Prisca Leung (Hong Kong)


"Conquering the Cascades". The Western Front. 3 June 2014

Featuring exchange students Jeanne Caron-Guyon (France) and Amelie Zobl (Austria)


"From Cairo to Bellingham: Exchange student competes in DECA, explores dance and works to start medical nonprofit in Egypt". AS Review. 12 May 2014

Profile of exchange student Mark Maximos (Egypt)


"Western Celebrates International Women's Day". The Western Front. 9 March 2014

Featuring exchange students Ghinwa Frayha (Lebanon), Walid Moulahoum (Algeria), and Annika Eriksson-Lindberg (Sweden)


"Western hosts Global Gourmets". The Western Front. 9 March 2014

Featuring Aziz Alhebaishi (Saudi Arabia), Druksel Dorji (Bhutan), and Yewon Kwon (South Korea)


"Student finds community across the globe". The Western Front. 31 October 2013

Profile of Batu Dashnyam (Mongolia)







Page Updated 09.30.2015