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The faces of our students

What was the first or one of the first things you noticed about people in Seattle? This city is extremely international! 

That was one of my biggest shocks when I first stepped in Seattle Central College, and the city itself. I noticed the way students and staff talk, how they dress, and how they look. I have been very curious about the diversity of people; to know where everyone is from and how they’ve got here. I wanted to randomly ask students where they come from. What are their stories, what are they doing here? 

My curiosity went even further when I started working as an international ambassador for the International Programs department at Seattle Central. I’ve talked to people from so many places, and we shared very different and very similar stories, no matter our homes’ distances and differences. It has been a fascinating and enlightening experience. 

One day, I decided to get to know people more, so I went in to talk to random students in our school. Sometimes it was awkward, and some other times it led to very enjoyable interactions. As an introvert, I got mentally exhausted within 15 minutes. But I was still curious, so I needed to act cool, smile, make myself sound and look friendly, and share about myself too. I have been pushing myself to be more social and an extrovert, to build up and improve my soft skills more. 

Here is a collection of stories of students that I have talked to. Some were a bit shy; some were very open. Some shared their stories with me, but just didn’t feel very comfortable with me publishing about them, and some I still talk to til this day from that random quick interaction. In all cases, I made sure to respect their privacy and just share what they were comfortable with me to publish. 

I hope you enjoy learning about who our students are! 

Friedrich Stenschke 🇩🇪

Francisco Fonseca Friedrich Stenschke in the Cafeteria of Seattle Central College | Francisco Fonseca
  1. Introduction and relation to Central 

Hello! My name is Friedrich Stenschke, and I’m a 22-year-old international student from Augsburg, Germany. I’m currently here with the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX), and I study at Seattle Central College since Fall 2022. My studies are Business and Business Technology Management. I’m a member of the Programming Club, Rocketry Club, and President of the Startup and Entrepreneurship Club; all great student clubs at Seattle Central College. Also, I’d like to see a real football team that I could join. 

My life at Central started in the end of September, when fall quarter began. But I’m here for one quarter, since the scholarship I’ve got between the German Parliament and the U.S. Congress is for one semester only. Before coming here, I studied e-commerce in my home country, Germany. I’d want to start my own business, since I’ve always been very passionate about entrepreneurship. Hence, why I started the Startup and Entrepreneurship Club at Central.

What I like about Seattle Central College is that it’s so international and everyone you meet here has an interesting story to tell. The only problem I still have is that I don’t get why everything is still online… I came here to make friends and have social interactions and having everything online makes that difficult.

Right now I work in an online store in Downtown Seattle, The owners of the business are also my host parents. I like this constellation a lot because I learn a lot from my host parents when it comes to running a business in the USA!

  1. Background 

Home for me is my family in Germany and in the UK (since I’m also half British). This does make it hard, since I always must travel to visit family since they now live across Europe. But it’s also good since it keeps me active and makes me explore new areas. 

I grew up near Cologne, in a small town in the countryside called Bergneustadt. However, for the last two years of my life I’ve lived in Augsburg to continue my studies there. It’s a very quiet place for business, but a great place to live since it’s surrounded by nature. 

To be honest, I don’t miss the place itself, although it is great for a settled life and retirement. I will probably go back some day, but for now I’m enjoying the U.S.A. and I can imagine myself staying here for a longer period of time. What I miss the most is my family, especially my little brother.  

  1. What’s it like living in Seattle? 

I currently live with a host family in Volunteer Park, which is on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Living so close to Downtown Seattle is fantastic. I can get everywhere quite easily.

  1. How do you get around in Seattle? 

I have a Toyota Yaris that gets me everywhere and is great for fuel efficiency. Occasionally, I still use my Orca Card, which is the card that Seattleites use to get around in public transport. As I mentioned above, living in a central area of the city is great.

  1. Favorite activities 

In my free time I study, read, do sports, and learn about business. Meeting friends are a big part of that, too. I love discovering Washington a lot! I’ve been hiking and visited some interesting places, like Forks and Leavenworth. I also go to a lot of political events here for example the World Affairs Council’s Annual Consular Association meeting in the Tacoma Art Museum and the Transatlantic aviation breakfast, or even the Swearing in-ceremony of our district congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. All this I do as my role of Junior Ambassador to the German parliament to represent our country. I’m not necessarily pursuing a career in politics, but I love this kind of work!

Laura Barbosa-Chifan 🇷🇴

  1. Introduction and relation to Central

Hey, there! My name is Laura Barbosa-Chifan. I’m originally from Cuvin, Romania (Arad). I’m a sophomore at Seattle Central, and I work at the International Programs office. I’m also the President and founder of the Math Club at the school. 

Me and my husband decided that Seattle is the best place for us to live because of the water view, amazing public transportation, and lots of greenery. At the time, we knew that we wanted to live downtown, and I also decided that I do not want to commute to a faraway college. Seattle Central was the best college for me because of its central location. Moving to the U.S. was not easy, and I’m still adapting to a very different culture and people. 

  1. Background

I come from a small village called Cuvin. The village is near a big city in Romania, Arad. The community of my village is very united, and (as in every small village in Romania) everyone knows everyone. However, the opportunities when living in a small village are very limited. As a result, I had to commute about 40 miles daily for high school, and that was not fun. I miss my family and dogs, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again soon. 

  1. How do you get around in Seattle? 

I live close to the school, and this makes it very easy to commute by Link. 

  1. Favorite activities 

I really enjoy walking, learning about plants, and listening to music. My favorite places in Seattle are the Arboretum, Volunteer Park, and the waterfront. 

Se-Won Park 🇰🇷

  1. Introduction and relation to Central

Hi! My name is Won Park, I’m 20 years old, and I’m from South Korea. I’m currently a Computer Science major at Central, and I’m really enjoying my time here, as Seattle has plenty of resources and opportunities for people in tech. I’m hoping to graduate by summer of ‘23. I came here because I have a lot of friends who live in Washington, and I knew Seattle was heavily focused on the IT field, which is what I am interested in. My mother also went to UW, so it’s a city that feels familiar to me despite it being my first year here. 

  1. Background

Well, it’s hard to call anywhere my “home”. Despite being an international student, I grew up in Las Vegas with English being my first language. I had a lot of difficulty adjusting to what people called “my home” when I first moved to Seoul in middle school. But now, that that’s all in the past. I’ve grown to appreciate both cultures a lot. They are both home to me. Las Vegas and Seoul are both big, bustling cities that never sleep. I’d love to visit both again someday in the future. 

  1. How do you get around in Seattle? 

I live very close to the school! So, you could say I got very lucky. 

  1. Favorite activities 

I like to go skateboarding with my friends when the weather is nice or go to the movies when it’s rainy. I haven’t had the time to for a while now, but I’d like to go back to drawing when I can. 

Sultan Alzahrani 🇸🇦

Francisco Fonseca | The Seattle Collegian Sultan Alzahrani at the International Ambassadors office, International Programs department | Francisco Fonseca
  1. Introduction and relation to Central

Hi, my name is Sultan Khalid Alzahrani ( سلطان خالد الزهراني), but I go by Sultan or Sul. I’m a 22-year-old international student from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; located on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. I have been studying at Seattle Central since the Winter quarter of 2021, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. So, I am a sophomore in college. I also work as an international ambassador for South Seattle College. As we all know, our school prepares many students to transfer to a four-year university, which I personally see it very beneficial. Our school preparation for transferring is very sturdy, which makes the students fully ready for the next stage for a university. The Seattle Colleges have a variety of clubs where every student can find their interests: sports, arts, sciences, languages, and even more interesting clubs. I engaged in the Math club in the last spring quarter and had such a memorable experience with the students and the instructor. This opportunity got me new friends and relations with same interests. 

I obviously used to look for a school that gives me the principle of the science courses, as well as has a strong connection with other institutions. There were many choices, so I narrowed down my options to look for a place where the major companies in. So, I ended up in Seattle, where Boeing, SpaceX and other known aerospace engineering companies are here. 

  1. Background

I came from the other side of the world, and there are very noticeable differences between Saudi and the United States. In Saudi, you will see mosques everywhere you go. That is because we are a very religious country, which is Islam. Also, we are very friendly with new people, and we always like meeting them and knowing what their background is. My city Jeddah features a stunning corniche; if you walk by the sea you, will see King Fahad’s Fountain. This fountain is ranked as the tallest fountain in the world. Besides that, Jeddah has its historical side, where you will be surprised by the old buildings built over 200 years ago. These buildings are now being used as malls, theaters, and famous restaurants. 

I surely miss my family; they are my motivation in everything. I really hope to see them soon, but they know I’m on a trip to studying abroad. For many years, circumstances forced me to live far from Saudi. So, I have moved, studied, learned, and worked outside my homeland. Being far away could not make me forget the love of my homeland or discourage me from my longing and memories of it. My personality has changed a lot, my ideas have grown and developed, and I have become able to genuinely communicate and understand other cultures and people. Nevertheless, the love for my home country has remained unfailingly, which does not melt nor dissolve with the pass of the years. Many things have changed since I left, but not the love for my home. 

  1. What’s it like living in Seattle? 

I do live in a studio by myself. Seattle is one of those cities that have high rates of renting prices. 

  1. Favorite activities 

Most of my free time is either on my flight simulator or practicing billiards. Besides studying aeronautical engineering, I really wish to have a private pilot license; it is really cool to build aircraft and fly them. I have completed a Sport Pilot License course back in Saudi Arabia, which allows me to fly lightweight aircrafts. I also like playing billiards, as it relieves my stress and puts me in good mood. I used to watch soccer regularly, but I stopped when I moved to Seattle, since I started focusing on my classes. Taking classes takes considerable time and the time difference between Saudi and Seattle can be up to eleven hours. Generally, I watch the highlights or just see the final score. Moreover, I am a Formula One fan. It is one of the most competitive sports in our world and has the fastest races ever. 

  1. Anything else you want to add or say? 

I am so happy to be part of Seattle Colleges and wish the best for everyone. It is good to have a goal in life to work on, and we all need to understand the concept of trying. When we try, we learn, discover, and get new ideas. That is what makes each one of us knowledgeable. Trying never means failing, it is always the key to exploring. Here in Seattle, we have plenty of opportunities, and those opportunities are inconsistent; we need to know how to aim at the right way effectively and confidently. I believe Seattle is a place where decent students come because Seattle offers excellent options that fit both international and domestic students and can make them very successful. 

Esther Astrid 🇨🇮

Francisco Fonseca | The Seattle Collegian Esther Astrid in Seattle, WA | Francisco Fonseca
  1. Introduction and relation to Central

Hello! My name is Djedje Tito Ornella Esther Astrid, but you can call me just Esther. I’m from Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). I arrived in the US almost two months ago to study at Seattle Central College. This was my first trip outside my country. It is a bit different from where I am from. The school is a truly welcoming and warm community. It is small, with at least three restaurants including a cafeteria. It was completely different from the idea that I had. Only a few people are involved in some activities arranged by the school. My goal is to become a successful accountant, so my major is Business.  I would have liked the school to have more advisors for international students because getting an appointment is quite difficult. I had to wait two weeks to book an appointment because they were all busy at that time. I have hardly any friends, and this is due primarily to my shyness, I think, but also because there is little interaction between students. Many of them are just busy or do not want to be disturbed. Clubs are small communities that share the same interest and that gave the idea to create mine. When it comes to resources available, there are only the strict minimum such as food pantries, school supplies, computers, and books from the library. I do not know enough about what it is to be a student, but I find these resources helpful. The environment is pleasant. 

Seattle Central College is a great school for what I know. I have not been here for one year, yet I like it. I absolutely be impressed by the culture and the traditions. Recently, I participated in a Halloween party and celebrated Thanksgiving with my host family.  

  1. Background

Seattle is a beautiful city, but it is a bit calm for me. I am an ambivert person. I do not like to go to parties and clubs that much, that is why I think like that. Even if you are the most introverted person on this planet, you will not get bored in my home country. It is not safe sometimes because of young poor orphans in the street because they are violent but more than that it is okay. We love dancing, listening to music, being impolite is our language. It seems weird, by that I mean insults are just a way to have fun. Nobody will get hurt emotionally. You must live there to understand the concept. Also, the food is cheap and delicious and a variety of foods coming from everywhere in Africa. We have many traditions like respect for Olders. We must greet them, give them a seat in a common transport and do not talk back to them. We also do believe in witchcraft and spirits. I wish there were solidarity here. Where I am from, we do not have a problem making friends or getting help from a random person. I will have my best experience here. I just need more time. My host family is treating me well. I cannot complain. Although, I really miss my school and my best friend. I cannot even remember the last time we had a conversation.  

  1. What’s it like living in Seattle? 

I live in Issaquah Highlands. It takes one hour and half, and if I wanted to live near the school, I could not just because apartments in Capitol Hill are expensive. I am comfortable with that, even if it means that I must wake up early every day. 

  1. Favorite activities 

In my free time, I like watching anime from Japan, and to relax at home alone. 

Natsuki Yamamoto 🇯🇵

Francisco Fonseca | The Seattle Collegian Natsuki Yamamoto with the Japan flag in the International Programs office | Francisco Fonseca
  1. Introduction and relation to Central

Hello, my name is Natsuki Yamamoto. I’m 24, and I’m from Saitama, Japan. I have been attending Seattle Central since Spring 2022 quarter, through a Japanese study abroad agency. What I like about this school is that there are many opportunities to interact with a wide variety of students, especially in the ESL class I was in during spring term. It was an ESL class, so some people, including me, were not good at English, but I enjoyed talking with them using gestures and we still hang out together. I like the school system; it has tutoring and office hours, which I often take advantage of. I like them because they are very useful for classes and English. In the library, we can rent rooms, as well as books for study and group work. However, if I had to ask for something, it would be nice to have more rooms, even if they are smaller and easier to book. I have regrets about the summer term. I was disappointed that I could not talk to my classmates during the summer term because many of the classes were online. I thought I should have joined some kind of club or community before the summer, and it would be nice to see more information about them. I enjoyed the fall term since I could go back to talking to my classmates. 

I ended up at Central because I was told about this school by a study abroad agency. I was surprised at how comfortable I was living here because before I came here, I thought I would have more trouble with English. When I went to a cafe for the first time, I was very happy that even though I could only read just coffee in the menu, I was able to talk with the waiter and even customize my own coffee, and then liked what I got served. The people who live here are so kind that I can spend every day with a smile on my face. Not only that, but I like the customer service here. For example, small talks. 

  1. What’s it like living in Seattle? 

I am staying with a Filipino host mother and host father. Host mothers are fashionable and friendly. So, we go to see clothes together and have fashion shows in the hallway with the clothes we bought at home. Host father is very charming and athletic! I spent summers playing basketball with him and wakeboarding in the boat he drove. Also, there is a Taiwanese girl and a Japanese boy living there with me, and we have a lot of fun every day. We went to Las Vegas in the winter with our family. My host family is very close, and I was surprised when they rented out a restaurant for a birthday party with many relatives. I still can’t remember everyone’s name. 

  1. How do you get around in Seattle? 

I live in Shoreline, so it takes me over an hour to get to school. Luckily, the buses I use are not very late, so I go to school comfortably. However, many of my friends who often play board games together at night live in Bellevue; I would like to move there. 

  1. Favorite activities 

I like to go to cafes. Sometimes I take the bus just for coffee and hop three cafes in one day. I like to go there not only to enjoy the coffee, but also to look at the space and the goods, etc. I sometimes post on my Instagram and make my own illustrations and cafe notebooks. Also, I enjoy walking outside with my coffee, especially around Lake Union and Green Lake. Seattle is so close to nature that I enjoy being outside more than I used to. I especially enjoy hiking, camping, and wakeboarding in the summer and skiing in the winter. 

I like earrings the most among all fashion items and I am very particular about them. I often get complimented on them by store clerks, which makes me very happy. After that experience, I started paying attention to people’s fashions. Then, I noticed that some people had nails the same color as their clothes or preferred to wear handmade ones. It was an entry point for conversation and getting to know other people better suggested new fashions for myself. Sometimes it is hard to get used to the differences in my country, but it has given me good growth, too. 

  1. Anything else you want to add or say? 

I like to communicate with people, so I like it here where I can talk with people from different countries. I really enjoy sharing fashion, food culture, and lifestyle. In Japan, people are too cautious of each other and do not speak straight to each other. I like the culture here where people are straightforward with their opinions, and everyone listens to them. What I like best about the culture here is that the holidays are enjoyed by adults and children alike to the fullest. I am very much looking forward to many more events in Seattle near Christmas. 

Cafes recommended for studying: 

  • Retreat: 6900 East Green Lake Way N, Seattle, WA 98115 
  • Armistice Coffee Roosevelt: 6717 Roosevelt Way NE Suite 101, Seattle, WA 98115 
  • Victrola Coffee Roasters: 310 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122 

Our students are wonderful. Thank you, Seattle Central College. 


Francisco Fonseca Profile Photo

Francisco Fonseca is the Web Manager for The Seattle Collegian.
He is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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