According to a Pew Research Center study, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. today were born in another country. As of 2017, one-fifth of the world’s migrants were in the U.S.
Friedrich Winkler is an international student from Bonn, Germany, and will graduate with an electrical engineering degree from Kennesaw State in Fall 2020. He moved to the U.S. after he graduated from Bonn International School and has been here for approximately three years.
Winkler said he made the decision to attend KSU because his father lives in the area and works as a building developer nearby.
He grew up speaking English as a second language, so the language adjustment was not hard, Winkler said. He also watched British television while growing up, so he understands many English phrases.
Even though Winkler was familiar with U.S. customs, some cultural differences still took him back.
“I notice the difference of interactions between teachers and students,” Winkler said. “[There is also] a fairly large difference of the general attitude that the students have towards learning … for example, I feel like technical skills are more appreciated in Germany.”
Other cultural differences he noticed involve food, especially the way people bond over it, and the culture surrounding wealth and malls. Winkler said there are not as many large malls in Germany and people do not spend a lot of their time there.
“The media landscape is also definitely a lot different, and that is what shapes people’s opinions and it makes a big difference,” Winkler said. “[The media is] a lot more focused on everyday issues and the nature of the topics are discussed differently.”
Every winter, Winkler goes back to Germany where he spends time with his mom. He tries to travel within the U.S. during the summer.
Winkler said he is always amazed by how much newer the places he visits in the U.S. are than in Europe.
“[What takes me by surprise] is the fact that America is not very old of a country,” Winkler said. “I grew up in Germany, where stuff being two thousand years old is almost normal in a way. Sometimes I’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, this stuff is only 150 years old.'”
During his downtime, Winkler likes to work on electronic mobility projects with his friends, like scooters and electric bicycles.
After graduation, Winkler would like to stay in the U.S. to either go to graduate school or get a job. He wishes to work for Keysight Technologies in Atlanta and to operate his own company someday. He will continue his studies in Germany in case his visa does not get approved.
“I want to work in the electronics industry,” Winkler said. “Specifically, the industrial electronics industry.”
Winkler’s advice for other international students is to prepare for the cultural differences, such as language and food. He also says to have a general plan before coming to the U.S. Winkler recommends taking advantage of the campus resources available such as the library and food services and to integrate with classmates as much as possible.