Meet a Student

The Voices of International Students Project: Eleonora Olsmats & Arzum Sepici


During my interviews with Eleonora Olsmats (Senior and Engineering Physics major from Stockholm, Sweden) and Arzum Sepici (Junior and Psychology major from Antalya, Turkey), we discussed the topic of friendliness and developing friendships in the United States as international students. Interestingly, Eleonora and Arzum have two very contrasting views on the friendliness of Americans, perhaps due their different cultural upbringings.  


Eleonora Olsmats

“One of the main things {about culture shock} was that everyone here is very open and friendly. Most people aren’t shy, they’re very social people. ...When I first came here, like the first time when I’d meet with someone, the person would be like, ‘oh, what’s your Instagram, what’s your Snapchat?’ whereas back at home I would only share that to my friends, not the first time I met the person.   

 ….Back at home, people are more reserved and kind of like into themselves. So, one example is when you pass someone on the street, people usually say ‘hi, how are you?’...and they’re like ‘good how are you?’ Then the conversation is done. But back at home, people just look straight and pass by someone or if you really knew the person, you stop and say ‘oh I haven’t seen you in a week, how are you?’” 



Arzum Sepici

“ ...People are not as friendly as I thought they were, not everybody, but some. In my culture, being welcoming and open to everyone is very important, even if we don’t know you. But here, it’s kind of still difficult unless you’re an international student that understands what I'm going through. Domestic students are still in their own little bubbles that just don’t want to be friends {with you}.” 


About the Project and Creator

“The Voices of International Students Project” features UNH students from various countries and academic backgrounds. This is a fall 2021 weekly storytelling project that centers on the voices of international students and their experiences at UNH. This project is intended to not only celebrate and highlight the diversity we have on campus but also to give international students the opportunity to share their unique stories and what they have learned from being international students on campus.  

Jennifer Rose is an intern in the UNH Global Education and created “The Voices of International Students Project.” She is currently a Liberal Studies major with a self-designed concentration in Intercultural Studies at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She will be finished with her bachelor's degree in December 2021. Studying abroad in London and Berlin during college exposed her to various cultures and inspired her to do this project.