International Student Experience Inspires Novel
Attending any school outside of one’s home country can be challenging. Not only do international students have to adjust to a new school, but they also need to become accustomed to the cultural differences between the U.S. and their home country. Mahendra Joshi ’10 drew on his experiences during his time pursuing a Master of Liberal Arts to write “Rockin’, Rollin’, Rolpa,” published in 2018. This novel showcases the differences in American and Nepalese life.
“Rockin’, Rollin’, Rolpa” follows Joshua Alberto Hamilton, a Michigan native who unintentionally lands in a Himalayan country on his twenty-first birthday due to a twist of fate. The novel highlights the differences between American and Nepalese life from Hamilton’s point of view with a blend of humor, drama, and thrill. Readers will experience the cultural differences between two opposite poles of the earth, realize that culture is not inherently good or bad, and make their own judgments. Joshi chose to write from an American’s point of view to highlight not only the experience he had in America, but also so American readers could be exposed to Nepal in a realistic way.
Joshi said his experience at Findlay was amazing and his novel is the result of the University teaching him to become an analytical and creative thinker. He completed his undergraduate degree in his home country of Nepal, but when it came time to get his master’s degree, he knew he wanted an international experience. While researching universities in Ohio, he discovered the University of Findlay and decided the Master of Liberal Arts, formerly offered in the College of Liberal Arts which is now known as the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, was a great fit for the liberal arts education he was seeking. He found the faculty helpful, the extracurriculars rewarding, and the facilities impressive.
While Joshi was more than satisfied with his experience at Findlay, he still faced the challenge of confronting cultural differences. “Being born and raised in rural Nepal and getting a chance to study in the U.S. was a dream come true. From the first day when I stepped in the U.S.,” he said. But the differences were vast – basic etiquette, language, behavior, food and drink and even American parties presented challenges. He recalls attending a classmate’s party and not knowing what any of the food was. “Even when they described what it was, I could not grasp it. So, just to be on the safe side, I only ate carrots,” Joshi said. A simple social interaction, like attending a party, can easily become an obstacle to overcome for international students.
Joshi critically thought about these differences and starting drawing conclusions. “I realized that no culture is bad, it is just the setting that can surprise you temporarily.” During orientation, the University held a session to talk with the international students about culture shock and cultural differences. This support, along with time, allowed Joshi to become more exposed to American culture, which ultimately made it easier to cope. Eventually, he began to conceptualize this idea of confronting cultural distinctions by developing characters, a plot, and settings.
Joshi currently lives in Nepal, where he teaches English and Business Communication at Cosmos College of Management and Technology in Satdobato, Lalitpur, Nepal. He also works as a consultant for developmental organizations such as the Department for International Development (DFID) and Kathmandu University.
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