From the island to the midwest: Micronesian student embraces life at Mount Mary


Photo by CRISTINA DE LA TORRE Internationally Studious- Sheila Suda from Micronesia studying her Composition 1 textbook in her country's traditional wear dress called a "Muumu"

Internationally Studious- Sheila Suda from Micronesia studying her Composition 1 textbook in her country’s traditional wear dress called a “Muumu”

Sheila Suda isn’t your ordinary college student. She flew thousands of miles from the Federated States of Micronesia to pursue her pre-medicine degree here at Mount Mary University— all while being only 18-years-old. In a recent interview, Suda discussed what life has been like at Mount Mary since her long journey to the United States.

Q: Why did you choose Mount Mary University?

A: I chose Mount Mary because I come from a family of strong Catholic tradition and wanted to embed the Catholic tradition in my education. Growing up, my family always taught me that education is not enough if you don’t include God in your life. You have to balance it. I also had a good scholarship offer from Mount Mary, Micronesia and financial aid.

Q: What do you like about Mount Mary so far?

A: I like the fact that when I first came here everyone was so nice; I felt that from the moment I stepped foot in Wisconsin. Antje [Antje Streckel, International Club faculty adviser] came to pick me up from the airport then I met some of the RA s (resident advisers) and I got along with them. I also like the clubs. I’m in the International Club, the Gospel Choir and Campus Ministry.

Q: What are some of the major differences between the Federated States of Micronesia and Wisconsin?

A: They have different fashions and the cultures. The fashion is not that different considering how everybody is starting to adapt to the modern world back home, but still our idea of fashion back at home is our local skirts called Uros and dresses called Muumu. Back here it’s also about being on time, but in Micronesia you have a lot of time to sit back and relax with the family like sitting and talking.

Q: Do you speak a different language in Micronesia?

A: Within the group of the Federated States of Micronesia we have four major islands and each island has its own language. I am from Chuuk and speak Chuukese, but I have been living in Pohnpei for four years and graduated from there too. I’m the pioneer and salutatorian, first graduate student, from the first Catholic high school on the island called Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School.

Q: Have you had any embarrassing experiences here?

A: Oh yes, but I don’t see them as embarrassing; I like to share the stories. One week after staying here I got so hungry and the cafeteria was closed so I decided to order pizza. So I Googled up the number, but instead of WI I put in MI, but I didn’t find out an hour later that I had called Michigan. The guy who answered the phone really took my order though. I’m not sure if he was playing around. So I checked my phone later on and realized I had called Michigan. I called back to just check in and they gave me another number, but it was still busy. So went down [to the switchboard] and there was security and they gave me the number to a Pizza Hut close-by.

Q: What advice do you have to give someone who is considering being an international or exchange student?

A: Interact more with a lot of people. That’s the only way I got myself to get out and enjoy the place instead of staying in my room and getting homesick. I wasn’t used to speaking with a lot of people back home. Mount Mary changed that.

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