A native of Uzbekistan, Saidjakhon Tursunov is a sophomore at the University of Arizona, majoring in public management and policy in the School of Government and Public Policy. A member of Arizona Model United Nations, he also works for the SBS Marketing and Communications team as a multimedia and marketing assistant. For International Students’ Day, Saidjakhon shared his experience as an international student, what he likes about Tucson, and some tips on how to succeed as a student living far from home.
How did you decide to study abroad, and why did you choose the University of Arizona?
My childhood dreams and plans always included studying overseas. I was motivated by the chance to immerse myself in a new culture, broaden my horizons, and develop a more global mindset. I spent a significant amount of time researching different universities and programs, looking for one that aligned with my academic and personal goals. UArizona stood out to me because of its outstanding academic reputation and vibrant campus community. Also, that it prioritizes the success and well-being of its international student community played a significant role in my decision. Additionally, the reputation for cultural diversity on campus and the availability of resources like International Student Services — which provides advising, assistance, and support in every sphere — assured me that I would have a positive and enriching experience as an international student.
What has been your favorite course or academic experience so far?
My favorite course so far has been Political Science 201 (American National Government). It offered a perfect blend of theoretical knowledge and practical application. The professor, Frank Gonzalez, has not only a deep expertise in the subject matter but also a teaching style that makes complex concepts accessible and engaging. What set this course apart was a hands-on project called “Who Has Power in America” which involved evaluating institutions in American democracy in terms of where the levers of power exist. It challenged me to apply the theoretical concepts we learned in class to real-world problems — fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Moreover, the collaborative nature of the course allowed me to interact with my peers, exchanging ideas and perspectives. Overall, this experience not only deepened my understanding of the subject matter but also equipped me with valuable skills that I can carry forward in my academic and professional journey.
Tell us about the process of getting a campus job.
I currently hold the position of multimedia and marketing assistant here on campus. It’s an amazing role that perfectly aligns with my passion for shooting videos and photos. The process of obtaining this job was seamless for me. With prior experience in social media management and video editing, I came across the job announcement on Instagram and immediately applied. It felt like the perfect fit, combining my skills with my hobby, and making the application process straightforward and rewarding. Working in this role has not only allowed me to contribute to the campus community through multimedia but has also been personally fulfilling.
How do you balance academics, extracurricular activities, and personal time?
Balancing academics, extracurricular activities, and personal time is crucial for me. During the week, I dedicate most of my time to classes and assignments on campus. In addition, I actively participate in the Arizona Model United Nations — attending meetings once a week, which complement my academic interests and provide a fulfilling extracurricular experience. In order to maintain a healthy balance, I reserve my weekends for personal time. This is when I indulge in my hobbies, such as playing soccer with friends, and take the opportunity to unwind. One of my favorite activities is cooking my national meals such as palov or somsa, at home with a friend, adding a personal touch to my downtime. This well-rounded approach allows me to excel academically, stay engaged in meaningful extracurriculars, and nurture my personal well-being.
What do you like about Tucson?
I particularly enjoy its peaceful atmosphere, which provides an ideal environment for focused studying and university life. Tucson's natural beauty, particularly the picturesque mountains, has become a source of inspiration for me. I frequently engage in hiking activities, taking advantage of the stunning landscapes that surround the city. The combination of the peaceful study environment and the opportunity to connect with nature through activities like hiking makes Tucson a shining and beautiful city that I am grateful to call my study home.
What advice would you give other international students starting their college journey?
My advice would be to embrace the experience wholeheartedly. I recommend being adaptable and resilient. College life, especially in a new country, may present challenges. Embrace these challenges as opportunities for personal and academic growth. Learn from both successes and setbacks. Recognize that being apart from your family is a part of the process. While it can be tough initially, consider it an opportunity for personal growth and independence. Remember, the college journey is not just about academic achievement but also about personal growth and cultural enrichment. Be proactive, stay positive, and make the most of this transformative experience.