One of the benefits of being an international student visiting the United States is the variety of different cultures they can experience. From the bright lights of New York City, to the vast sweeping horizons of the Great Plains, to the relaxed worldview of the Pacific Northwest, students can choose from a variety of American experiences.

For Amar Sitabi, an exchange student from Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, his American experience has been tinged with brilliant sunsets, mountain sunrises, open spaces, and the green chile heat that only New Mexico can provide.

“I decided to come to UNM because I wanted to get a taste of American culture and student life. It is also a geological interesting area, which made it more relevant for me as an Earth Sciences major. It’s the landscapes, geology, weather, and the clear skies. In (The Netherlands) there is not a lot of geology to be seen. There also is much more rain and it is colder in general.

“(New Mexico) is much bigger, but has a smaller population than the Netherlands. The temperatures are higher here, and there is less precipitation. The Mexican and Native American influences are unique for New Mexico.”

The college experience for Amar has also been different from what he experienced in the Netherlands. UNM’s main campus was larger and offered a great number of experiences that many colleges in Europe don’t have available.

“There are many more facilities on campus. The Duck Pond, Zimmerman Library, Johnson Gym and the various museums (around campus) are just a few examples of what we do not have at my university in the Netherlands.”

The UNM community has left a lasting impression on Amar, one that he has been excited to be a part of. One of the things that Amar truly appreciated was the excitement of the student body at campus events, many of which he had not experienced in the Netherlands. But while he has enjoyed his time in Albuquerque, Amar is looking forward to returning home at the end of the Fall semester, spending time with his family and friends, and bringing some of the “New Mexico experience” with him to Vrije Universiteit.

“When I get back home, I will meet up with my friends. I am also more open to meeting new people now. I also think that I will see if it is possible to get a mascot for my own university, since we do not have one. The two Lobos (Lobo Louie and Lobo Lucy) really get the UNM community together!”