“The people were cold to me in London, it was not a place for me. I like America 100% more.” Mehdi Owji says with a smile, “You guys eat a lot here in America.” As an Iranian-born student who has lived in in Dubai, London, and Miami, Mehdi has been able to see the differences in culture within the places he has resided in. “America is a whole different culture for me,” he said. “People expect you to be on time. You guys say be there at 10 a.m., you better be there at 10. You’re much more communicative.”
After spending years of schooling in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mehdi enrolled in a program for students to study in London, England, but didn’t like it because of the “people” and the weather. “The people were cold to me in London,” he said. “It was not a place for me. I like America 100% more.” He decided to further his education by moving to America.
Mehdi enrolled in high school in Miami in 2011, learned to speak fluent English, and decided to attend Marist College upon graduation. He cited the “beautiful campus” and proximity to New York City as his deciding factors, since he is a finance major and prefers “easy access” to the city. Receiving a scholarship from Marist sealed the deal for him.
Mehdi entered Marist as a computer science major but changed after the first semester to bio-med. After three semesters, he soon realized that his heart was with finance and changed his major one last time. Now, his goal is to get a job that will fund him a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA). He hopes that job will be somewhere in the city, as that is where he believes the “best” opportunities await him. In the long run, his goal is to run a hedge fund.
“People here are from so many different countries.”
As someone interested in the world of finance, Mehdi looks to well-known figures like Mark Cuban as people to emulate. He wants to set himself apart from the competition and with his multicultural background, he believes he can make this happen. Mehdi can speak Arabic, English and Persian fluently, and has traveled to several parts of the world, including countries in Asia and Africa.
Still, despite his vast travels, he and his family believe that knowing how to speak English is crucial in today’s world, which is why his parents enrolled him in educational programs outside Dubai. “The education system in the United States and in London are way better than where I am from,” Mehdi explained. “English is one of the most common languages spoken in the world so my parents sent me off to learn it and get a better education.”
Mehdi and his family chose London first because it was closer to Dubai, but soon realized his luck was better spent in the United States. Despite moving to a completely new country, Mehdi quickly adapted to American culture. The first difference for him, he said, was the religious aspect. “Iran is a Muslim country and so is UAE,” he said. “When I got to the U.S., I realized how different it was going to be.” He also noted the amount of diversity in the U.S., saying, “People here are from so many different countries.”
This past summer, Mehdi went home to visit family and noticed a stark contrast between the two places. Still, he spoke of the love he still shares for his native country of Iran. “It’s a historical place, one of the oldest countries,” he said. “There are lots of mountains and views, and just more of nature. There are so many travel opportunities. It’s not a theme park kind of place.” His goal is to return to either Iran or UAE after receiving his MBA, since he still has family residing in both countries.
There are still things he treasures about his new home of America, one of them being the popularity of sports. When he is not on campus, Mehdi lives with his uncle in Boston so he has grown an affinity for New England teams, especially the New England Patriots of the NFL. Mehdi has also enjoyed playing intramural soccer for Marist, along with being an active member of ARCO, the Center for Multicultural Affairs, and Toastmasters. “I get bored really easily,” he shrugged.