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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Zeenath Kahn ‘17 – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

<ong>What was your upbringing like?

My mom is from Minnesota and my dad is from Pakistan, so I was born in Pakistan. I lived there for a couple of years and moved to Saudi Arabia. I would move back and forth, but most of my life I lived in Saudi Arabia. It’s a really interesting place to grow up. It’s very different from any other place in the world. It’s a big city, lots of people; it’s almost like a New York type of scene, lots of buildings and people everywhere and it’s very commercial. Arabs are very friendly people. I went to an international school so I also met people from all over the world. No one was from Saudi Arabia so it was nice to have people to relate to. It’s where I picked up all my culture.

How did you end up at Carleton?

Last year I visited my grandparents, who live in Rochester. I was looking at the University of Minnesota and I had a list of colleges and universities. One of my dad’s friends mentioned Carleton to me. I’d never heard of it, so I looked it up and I decided to come here just to take a tour and I loved it. One thing I really liked about it was, well, first of all it’s close to my family, and I didn’t want to go somewhere where I was completely alone. The second thing I was really drawn to was the diversity. Having gone to an international school and having lived all over the world I felt like here I could continue that…it was where I was the most comfortable. This place has a very big, diverse group of people form all over the world….people are very curious and interested in where I come from. I can find people I relate to.

What’s been the main cultural difference you’ve noticed?

I think the biggest thing is the idea of all Saudi Arabian people being very religious. I mean, people in Saudi Arabia are very private and conservative, and coming here, seeing people who aren’t at all shaved or afraid to declare a certain culture or a certain religion…it was nice to see, that people are proud of who they are, and they don’t mind saying and defending their views. People don’t judge as much as the people from back home. That was one thing I was surprised to see, but I was glad they were here. I like that mindset.

You’re just a freshman, but do you have any goals yet for what you want to accomplish before graduation?

Not yet, I think I’m still in that phase where I’m trying to get adjusted, I’m still trying to manage my schedule and work, but I intend to join student clubs that have to do with the environment…almost like student council, I’m not sure what it’s called here. I like to be a part of the student body and go around and talk to people about what they want to change, what they like.

What speaker or event sticks out in your mind as the most memorable so far?

I think it was the first opening convocation, we had an alum Jonathan Capehart speak… it was really interesting to see someone who once upon a time was a Carl and see his journey and where’d he’d gone. And he had such great, small details about Carleton. When first came here I was wondering, “Should I be here?” and that convo was very reassuring.

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