Aaron Zabrinas (rear, second from left) and Ava Krepp (rear, third from right) discussed their journey studying abroad in Germany this Spring. (Photo via Pulse@ChathamU)

Aaron Zabrinas’ 23  and Ava Krepp’ 25 share their experiences during their 2 week stay in Germany visiting the Neuschwanstein Castle, German countryside, and the Bauhaus-style neighborhoods.

For more information, click the link below:


When will you study abroad? Please contact the Office of International Affairs with any questions about study and intern abroad programs, the application process, or funding at

Vilousa Hahembe Global UGRAD visiting student

Vilousa Hahembe, Global UGRAD visiting student, studied at Chatham University in  Spring 2023. She took classes in economics and was involved on-campus with several student organizations. In February, Vilousa was one of four students to presented on “My Generation: Societal expectations from around the world” and shared her experiences navigating the differences between her home country and the United States. After her program at Chatham ended and she returned home, Vilousa is still working to share her experiences. She met with US Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken, during his visit to Papua New Guinea.

Vilousa Hahembe, Global UGRAD scholar and Chatham University visiting student, in red.

FB post from the U.S. Department of State.

A Strong Willed Woman: A Biography of Samira Rustami

A Strong Willed Woman: A Biography of Samira Rustami

By Uma (a pseudo name)

March 2023

Samira at Chatham University

  Samira Rustami was born on October 16, 2001, in Kabul, Afghanistan. She lived her life under strict societal norms, widespread gender discrimination, and outright inequality. Despite those challenges, she finished school with excellent grades and completed her university degree. She fled Afghanistan due to the Taliban’s takeover and made it to the American land of freedom. Currently, she is working on her nursing degree.

Samira has five sisters, one brother, six aunts, two uncles, and many cousins. Because she had a big family, she spent her childhood mostly with her relatives without socializing with anyone outside her family. She had a disadvantaged position in society due to her gender and poor caste. In a country like Afghanistan, from the time a girl is born, society pressures them to give up on their dreams. “Repeatedly, I was reminded that I should not pick up a book or a pen. I just need to learn how to cook and clean to serve the family,” said Samira in an interview. If her parents found out that she secretly studied, they would tear her books or burn them. That was very different from the way her brother was raised. He was always showered with encouragement. She would often find herself wanting to be a boy instead.

In 2005, Samira went to school at the age of five. She was a top student in her class, and by twelve she was done with school. She loved her teachers, who inspired girls to get an education. After her graduation from high school, she received a scholarship to attend university because she had a high score in her entrance test. 

In 2016, Samira read the book Malala Yousufzai[1], which inspired her. She applied to a university in India, and a year later she started to attend the university at the age of 16. Her uncle helped her financially, which brought her closer towards her dream. She studied there for three years and got her Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Finance. This was a remarkable achievement because, according to UNESCO’s data on Afghanistan, the literacy rate for women aged 15-24 in 2018 was 62%, and the gross enrollment ratio for females in tertiary education was 16% in 2019. Samira was persistent in pursuing higher education because she understood its value. To her, it meant freedom and independence.

In 2021, she got back to Afghanistan with the hope to find a job in the finance industry. Despite working hard to achieve her goals, never giving up, and continuing to search for opportunities, her gender continued to deter her employment options. Finally, she found a job at a five-star hotel. She worked there for seven months, but due to the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan in August 2021, she realized that she had to take a frightening risk and leave behind her whole life, achievements, and family members, who she might never see again. Samira and her husband left the country with a small backpack. She still cannot put into words her feelings about that day.

The population of Afghanistan is 40 million people, and by December 2021, approximately 8% of the population had been displaced. Samira and her husband got lucky, and they made it to the United States in August 2021. Despite ongoing challenges, the United States gave her another chance to improve her education career and pursue another bachelor’s degree under a partially funded scholarship at Chatham University.

Samira, who turned 22 years in October 2022 is taking classes at Chatham University and wants to become a nurse to help people. She has an adorable daughter and caring husband. Even though she had an extremely hard life in her childhood, she does not regret that. Furthermore, she hopes her story will inspire other young Afghan girls and encourage them to believe that they can achieve their goal too. Samira has a strong will, and nothing will stop her from achieving more.

  1. Malala Yosufzai: a writer who lived in a similar culture, who overcame every challenge and became famous

Habib Sorosh: A Biography

By Mohammad Omar Ahmadi

March 2023

Habib reading his essay at Chatham University

Habibullah Sorosh is a professor, screenwriter, and playwright whose research includes the history of Afghan cinema, the structural effects of absurdist dramas, and Kazakh historical films. Born in the Jaghori district, Ghazni province of Afghanistan, Habibullah received his Bachelor of Cinema and Theater from the Department of Fine Arts at Kabul University and Master of Art Criticism at Kazakh National Academy of Arts Temorbek Zhurgenov. For the past ten years, Habibullah has been a professor at Kabul University in the Department of Fine Arts and Dramatic Literature. He is currently a Visiting Researcher in the Schools of Drama and Art at Carnegie Mellon University.

Born as Habibullah on October 28, 1985, in a relatively poor family, Habib is the 5th child of Juma Khan and Hakima. Juma Khan was a hard working farmer focusing on growing wheat, the most important crop in Afghanistan, followed by rice, barley, and cotton. Hakima was a housewife who did household jobs and raised their children. She also helped Juma Khan with farming, which is common for Afghan women living in rural villages. Juma Khan was a kind person known for his honesty within his community. He was like a friend to Habib and his siblings. Hakima was a smart woman, and she was always a good adviser in Habib’s life.

Habib has four living brothers (Rohullah, Mohammad Sharif, Mohammad Zarif and Mirza Hussain) and two living sisters (Jamila and Najiba). His oldest brother named Mohammad Asif was lost on his way to Iran in 2010, and still no one knows what happened to him, but after these many years, Habib and his family have accepted that he may have died. Another older brother Rahmatullah got Hepatitis, which damaged his liver, and died in 2012. Mohammad Asif had a Bachelor of Philosophy and Rahmatullah had studied up to 6th grade of high school. His living brothers Rohullah and Mohammad Sharif studied up to 8th grade of high school. Mohammad Zarif is a dentist, and his younger brother Mirza Hussain has a Bachelor in Dramatic Literature. His older sister Jamila only finished primary school. However, his younger sister Najiba has a Bachelor in Cinema.

Growing in a small village named Shahrzaida, a historical place, in Jaghori district, Habib attended Abu Raihan al Beroni public school from 1992 to 2004. During all those years, Habib was a smart student who always got the first place in class. The most influential person in his life was his teacher named Afzali who was a kind and humble person. He was Habib’s first grade teacher who not only educated him, but also helped him to find his educational path. He got cancer and died in 2019.

One most memorable experience of Habib’s life during high school is when he was in the 11th grade. One of his classmates had four members of his family as teachers who helped him to cheat and take the first place in class. Habib, therefore, got the second place in class. Habib complained to the administration of the school, and after taking the exams given by school committee members, he achieved his first place in class again. This incident made Habib very sad. He felt his family’s financial situation affected his education. By giving bribes and having family relationships with the teachers, someone took his position in the class. However, he wanted to show everyone that they couldn’t take his intelligence from him. His self-confidence and hope for a better tomorrow motivated him to stand against this inequity.

After high school, Habib attended Kabul University, and after four years (2006-2009), he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Theater and Cinema. In 2012, he started his Master of Art Criticism Science program with a specialty in Film Studies in the Kazakh National Academy of Art named after Temorbek Zhorgenov in Kazakhstan and finished his degree in 2015.

After his master’s studies, in 2015, Habib married Adila, who was a midwife, in Kabul, Afghanistan. They have two sons (Sami and Nima), Sami was born on August 16th, 2016, and Nima was born on April 2nd, 2020.

During his career, Habib had a lot of cultural and social activities in Afghanistan. In 2015, he was selected many times as a member of a judge panel in film, theater, and dramatic literature in national and international festivals. In 2017, he achieved the award for the best playwright among a large number of nominees from different countries for his drama about Maulana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi (Rumi) in an international festival in India. Habib has also authored two books named “Characterization in Drama” in 2017 and “Criticism of Dramatic Literature” in 2019. He has also written and published several scientific articles for national and international journals during these years. 

Unfortunately, in 2021, the Taliban took over Kabul and Afghanistan, which forced him to leave the country because the Taliban has a very hostile relationship with art and artists in Afghanistan. He was a taboo artist in their eyes. Furthermore, he has written and directed many plays and screenplays about the Taliban, al-Qaeda, sheikhs, ISIS, and warlords of the region, all of whom wanted an opportunity to exact revenge on him. He has shown many plays at the Afghan National Festival and at international festivals. He has written a play called “The Unsung Song of the Village,” in which his sister (Najiba Sorosh) played the central role. This performance seriously criticized and ridiculed the views and ideology of the Taliban, ISIS, al-Qaeda, sheikhs, and warlords. This performance and his plays were widely reported in the media, such as the BBC and other  news sites. As a result, he was threatened with death by the Taliban, who attempted to arrest him and his sister several times but were unsuccessful.

Finally, when the Taliban started house-to-house searches in Kabul, Afghanistan, he and his family (his wife and his two sons) had to flee to Pakistan, and then they came to the United States of America with the cooperation of the organization Scholars at Risk. He is currently a Visiting Researcher in the Schools of Drama and Art at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is researching the fields of theater, cinema, and art theory.

Apply for your US Passport Early! Be Aware of Processing Delays.

Be ready to travel!

If you are planning to study or intern abroad or take an overseas vacation, you’ll need travel documents, including a valid passport. Currently, there are major delays in passport processing, with regular processing listed at 10-13 weeks, not including mailing times. If you want to study intern or travel abroad in the next year, it will benefit you to APPLY EARLY.

What documents do US citizens need to travel outside the US?

Passport: Apply several months in advance for a new passport. If you already have one, it should be valid for at least six months after you return home and have two or more blank pages, depending on your destination. Otherwise, some countries may not let you enter.

Visas: You may need to get a visa before you travel to a foreign destination. Contact the embassy of the countries you will be visiting for more information.

Learn more about passport application requirements, procedures, and processing times at

If you don’t have a passport, apply now! If you do have one, please check your passport validity! Email us at with questions.

What Are You Doing This Summer?

Jishnu Jayathilak, spring 2020, Cyprus

How will you spend your summer break? Yes, it may be February, but now is the time to make your summer plans.

Why not get ahead with classes or internships that can fulfill Chatham undergraduate degree requirements AND travel to another country to experience a new culture? You can expand your worldview, and build your resume, all while you make new friends from around the world.

A study or intern abroad program can be part of your summer plan. Here are some affordable Chatham partner options with a variety of coursework for you to consider as well as funding opportunities.

Costa RicaVeritas University

SpainNebrija University




TaiwanTunghai University

ItalyAccademia Italiana or Umbra Institute

Looking for a summer internship abroad or a study program in another location? Check out these program providers:


All Chatham undergraduates can receive $1,200 toward any credit-bearing experience abroad. The Study abroad voucher is available one time to all full-time undergraduate students who have earned at least 30 undergraduate credits. You don’t need to apply for the voucher – it will be awarded to all eligible students for the term in which they study abroad, reducing the amount owed by $1,200.

Students completing an International Studies Certificate and 6 or more credits of study or internship abroad may be eligible for an additional $1,800 in international certificate funding (verification required).

Chatham offers two experiential learning scholarships, the Glenda Rich DeBroff and Sally Mercke Heym scholarships which students may apply for toward a summer international experience. There are two Rachel Carson-named experiential learning scholarships available for students whose summer programs include environmental fieldwork.  Applications (see link for application) for Chatham summer experiential learning scholarships are due to by 2/28/23.

Students who receive a Pell grant at the time of application (or will receive a Pell grant during the term they study abroad) can apply for a Gilman Scholarship, see . The application is open now with a deadline of 3/9/23. This cycle encompasses Summer 2023, Fall 2023, Academic Year 2023-2024, and Spring 2024 programs or internships.


Chatham students must complete a Study Abroad Application and submit a Course Equivalencies Worksheet to Academic Advising. Students completing an internship must follow Career Development guidelines for registering for an internship.

The Office of International Affairs is here to help! Please contact us with any questions about study and intern abroad programs, the application process, or funding. We can be reached at



Scholarship & Study Abroad Opportunities: SU23 and beyond!

Thinking ahead to summer 2023 and beyond, now is the time to make your plan to study abroad; review the below opportunities, check eligibility and deadlines, and apply!


  • Study in Indonesia on the 10-week Summer Studies Program! Program cost is $2,000 including airfare, housing, and tuition. Scholarships available! Applications for the 2023 Summer Studies Program are due on January 15, 2023.


  •  FEA Scholarships (of up to $5,000) for students underrepresented in study abroad for the study/intern program of your choice. Summer 2023/Fall 2023/Academic Year 2023-2024 application will close on January 18, 2023, at 12:00 PM EST



  • Apply for a Frederick Douglass Scholarship for summer 2023. Twelve exceptional student leaders of color will be selected to conduct a comparative study of social justice leadership in America, South Africa, and Ireland – application deadline is February 14, 2023.



  • Do you receive a Pell grant? You can receive up to $5,000 for the study/intern abroad program of your choice. Apply for a Gilman Scholarship. Application deadline is March 9, 2023.




  • Study in Taiwan this summer with Chatham partner Tunghai University.  Take courses in Business and Economics, STEM and Sustainability, Arts and Culture or Chinese Language & earn up to 6 credits– Attend an Information Session on January 19 (Thursday) at  8 PM (EST)  Link: (no pre-registration required!)


  • Study in Japan. Summer 2023 Japanese Language Immersion Course (JLIC) at Chatham partner Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts. See this link for details and application requirements. Application deadline is February 24, 2023. Please email if you are interested in applying.


  • Other Chatham partners offer affordable summer programs in Costa Rica, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. If you have questions about these programs, or are looking for other course, intern, program, or country options, please reach out – we are happy to help you find the right program for you!



Reach out to with any questions. You can visit us in Falk Hall, Lower level, across from the Chatham copy center.

Appreciating my Home Country Through Studying Abroad

By Honoka Ihara

English Language Program

Chatham University

I was in elementary school when I decided to go to the United States to study. The trigger was a trivial thing. I listened to foreign songs and watched foreign movies, and I simply wanted to be able to speak English. I also longed to live in the U.S., which is very different from Japan. From there I began to study English. I asked my parents to go to an English cram school.

I also attended the English Department in high school and enrolled in the English Literature Department at university. My plan was to study abroad during my second year of college. However, in 2020, the year I entered college, the Covid pandemic happened. My college life became completely different from what I had imagined. My first year of college, I never went to college and took all of my classes online. My college had many foreign professors, and I looked forward to taking their classes. I wanted to chat with them in English after class. However, taking classes online meant no interaction with the professors. Furthermore, international students who would have come to Japan every year were no longer able to come to Japan to study due to Covid-19. My college had a “conversation partner” program, and I had been looking forward to participating in such programs, but I was no longer able to do so. I have two older sisters and when they were in college, they really seemed to enjoy it. Knowing that, I was really disappointed compared to my own college life. Despite this, I prepared myself from the first year so that I could go study abroad in my second year. After passing the internal selection process, I was selected to study abroad in the academic year 2021. However, as it turned out, the study abroad program for the year 2021 was also cancelled. 2021 was still in the midst of the Corona epidemic, and I was only able to go to about half of the colleges, so I was prepared for the possibility that the program would be cancelled, but I was still shocked. In 2022, after one more year, I was able to study at Chatham University.

In Japan, I was not able to do things that are typical of university students, but since coming to the U.S., I have experienced many different things. There were also many things that I did not notice when I was in Japan. What struck me most was that Americans are not afraid to leave or throw away food. In Japan, leaving food behind is not considered a good thing. Of course, it may not be considered a good thing in the US either. However, while eating dinner in a dining hall, I noticed that many Americans leave the pizza crust behind. Some people leave other things that they just had a bite of.  Seeing this happen, I once thought to myself, “They must have left it because it didn’t suit their palates.” The extreme case is there is a trash can in the area where we return the dirty dishes. That trash can is divided into two types: one for paper napkins and other trash, and the other for throwing away leftover food. I was surprised when I saw that for the first time because I had never seen trash cans in Japan for throwing away leftover food scraps. I heard that the leftovers are used as animal feed, and I was surprised that the trash cans were built on the premise that leftovers would be thrown out. In Japan, there are probably people who have no objection to leaving food behind, but most people are taught by their parents or teachers not to leave food behind as much as possible. So many Japanese people are resistant to leaving food behind. I think this is a good thing about Japan that I noticed when I came to America.

Thus, since coming to the U.S., I have had many opportunities to learn about the good qualities of Japan. Before studying abroad, I did not expect to think about my home country because I thought I would discover many things about the United States. However, I thought that it is because I live in a different country from my home country that I notice the good things about my home country. Conversely, before I came here, I had an image of America as being very beautiful and everything was wonderful compared to Japan. I think that coming to the U.S. has broadened my perspective in many ways. From this perspective, I would like to identify good and bad points and use them as material to improve myself. For me, studying abroad is not only about learning English, but also about myself. I want to apply what I have realized through studying abroad to my future life.

Hard Choices

By Rashed Alolayani

English Language Program

Fall 2022

One a cold cloudy day, I woke up at 7:00 am. I typically begin my day by making a cup of coffee so I can stay focused throughout the day. As I I was eating breakfast that day, I thought of my early days in the United States. I was browsing my photo album on my phone and saw pictures that I took in the first semester. I recalled how cold it was in the winter and how much snow was on the trees and the ground. That morning, I reflected on how much fun I had and how many obstacles I overcame. After getting dressed, I went for my usual morning walks. I was enthusiastic and happy that day.

However, when the day was over, I got anxious, and I got the feeling that every foreign person in a foreign country felt. Long story short, I got homesick and had been missing my family and friends. I enjoy communicating with them on the phone, but what I missed is hanging out with them and being around them. I remember that night I went on my computer and searched for my home on Google Earth so I can feel that I’m there. The feeling of separation from people and places that we know is a common feeling among international students. I usually deal with those emotions by talking to friends, writing a journal, or making art so I can flip the switch on anxiety.

Still, I felt different that night. I felt anxious and stressed. “Am I wasting my own time?”  “Am I good enough?” “What should I do in the future?” “Am I going to make the right decision or not?” Those were the thoughts running through my head. I was overthinking over many tough decisions that needed to be dealt with. It was a critical choice that would shape my self-development and experiences and could change my whole identity in the future. Therefore, I had to choose,  and I had to choose wisely. Life is short, and it is characterized by struggles, unfairness, and daily battles. Nevertheless, we need to try to concentrate on what makes us happy, what makes us grateful, and what motivates us. Making decisions will always be challenging because assessing options requires time and effort. Second-guessing myself and feeling uncertain are the usual phases of this process. In many ways, it is a good thing to be considering my options rather than simply going with the flow.

I was thinking about continuing my academic journey and pursuing a master’s degree in my field. It is going to be a long journey that requires a portion of work, self-discipline, and more hard work. I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine that night, and I talked about everything I had in my mind. My friend said, “Don’t worry about a thing ’cause every little thing is going to be all right.” It was a quote from a song that we used to listen to back in the day. After I hung up, I felt a big relief with a smile on my face. Later that week, I applied for a Master of Arts in psychology. I decided that it was the right choice to make. If I get accepted, I will learn new knowledge and get the best grades I could. If not, I would go on a nice vacation and a new journey.

In the present time and as a full-time student here in the United States, I feel that I have the opportunity to explore new cultures, new places, and new ideas. Furthermore, I feel that my perspective has changed in the way I see things. I’ve become more rational, patient, and independent. Moreover, I’ve developed and learned new skills in English like speaking and listening to people, and reading and writing, and those skills will assist me in my future job or simple communication. After my experience in Chatham, I only have gratitude for everyone there. I have wonderful teachers who have helped me gain a better understanding of both American culture and the English language. They have provided significant knowledge about spoken and written communication to assist me in being a booming postgraduate student. I appreciate the college staff who welcomed me with open arms, and the classmates from around the world who are kind and cool.

To conclude, making decisions will always be difficult because trying to weigh options takes time. However, life is fleeting, and individuals should focus on what makes them happy, grateful, and motivated. Therefore, when the time comes for making a choice, we will have the mindset to make the right decision.

Chatham University

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