International student overcomes challenges to obtain degree

Graduate student Mohammid Alanazi talks about studying literature in November. Alanzi plans to graduate with a master’s degree in spring 2018.

English Literature takes its readers on journeys to faraway places. One reader came from Medina, Saudi Arabia, to Florence.

Mohammid Alanazi is a first-year graduate student at UNA working toward a master’s degree in literature.

Moving to a new country to better his education sounded like an excellent opportunity, but not everyone agreed with his decision, Alanazi said.

“My family doesn’t approve,” Alanazi said. “Their thinking is if you are going to leave your country, then you will not be back. Hopefully, that will change.”

But moving to America was beneficial to Alanazi because it allowed him to speak his mind, he said.

“Here, (there) is freedom, more than (in) Saudi Arabia,” Alanzi said. “Here, I can say anything, but in Saudi Arabia, you (are) not allowed to say what you want.”

His family’s disapproval is not the only difficulty Alanazi faces. The language barrier sometimes makes classes difficult, he said.

Alanazi has plenty of support in the U.S. Everyone has been a big help to him, he said. The English Department and the Center for Writing Excellence helped him with any trouble in his classes.

The United States has given him the chance to improve his English, Alanazi said. Living in Saudi Arabia, he was only using English some of the time, and living in the U.S. forced him to improve.

Alanzi’s English is steadily improving, said his neighbor and friend Brandyn Burget.

“His adapting has been great,” Burget said. “He picks up on American customs and our way of life very well.”

Alanazi has only been learning the English language for a year, but he decided to pursue a degree in English Literature because he loves it, he said.

“He is excited about mastering English, both the language and the literature,” said English Assistant Professor Kelly Latchaw in an email.

Alanazi works to learn about the American culture but also teaches others about his.

He embraces American culture and works hard to understand and fit in here, while at the same time being happy to share his own culture with his American classmates,” Latchaw said.

This seems to work, as his classmates have befriended him, she said.

“(Alanizi) is outgoing and friendly, and the others speak well of him,” Latchaw said.

Friendships come easily to Alanzi, no matter if they’re Saudi Arabian or American, Burget said.

“If people just give him a little patience and actually learn who he is, they will make a great friend,” Burget said.

“He’s like a brother to me now, and I’m lucky to have met him.”

Alanazi said he is most excited about working with the English Department. One day he hopes to be a writer or work in the English Department at UNA.

He is open to living in the U.S. or Saudi Arabia once he graduates, depending on where he finds a job, Alanazi said. He hopes to spread his love of literature, he said.

If Alanizi stays in the U.S., he hopes his family will be supportive, he said. Despite their disagreements over his studies, Alanazi remains in contact with his family through technology such as Facebook and Facetime.

Moving to a new country to study a different language has been difficult, but the support he received from his American friends helped him overcome many difficulties.

“I have never felt like I can’t do it,” he said.

Alanazi said he plans to graduate with a master’s degree in literature in spring 2018.