International Students Enrich CatholicU


Catholic University attracts students from all over the world thanks to its D.C. location, strong academic programs, and Catholic identity. More than 75 countries are represented by the nearly 500 international students enrolled at CatholicU. We asked some of these students what brought them to the University, how they share their culture with classmates, how they stay connected to home, and more.

Stela Ishitani Silva (Pictured above)

Program: Ph.D. in Physics

Where are you from? Belo Horizonte, Brazil

What made you want to leave home and study at Catholic University? Being a space lover, I wanted to study the mysteries of the universe, and Catholic University offered a Ph.D. program in physics with great connections in the field of astrophysics, which included connections with NASA! When I was considering going to CUA, I had the opportunity to talk to Professor Steven Kraemer — chair of the physics department at that time — and to Professor Duilia de Mello —  vice provost and Brazilian astronomer — who were both very helpful. They kindly explained to me the details of the program and truly supported my application. I knew this experience would be fundamental for my career.

How has Catholic University helped you transition to studying in the United States? ISSS (International Student and Scholar Services) contacted me right away when I was approved. They explained all the details and gave me instructions. The professors also helped with my questions. Everybody was very considerate.

Is there a place in D.C. (a restaurant, museum, store, etc.) that gives you a taste of home? There are a few restaurants and bars with Brazilian music and Brazilian food. But anywhere I can be reunited with good friends feels like home. 

What are your career goals? I want to contribute to science and never stop learning.


Dominic Njoku

Dominic NjokuProgram: Master of Divinity

Where are you from? Nigeria 

What made you want to leave home and study at Catholic University? I left home to study at the Catholic University because I wish to become a Catholic priest. Catholic University is so rich in diversity and offers me the opportunity to encounter people from different backgrounds, cultures, and traditions. To be an effective and happy priest, an understanding of the richness in diversity is important, and Catholic university offers such great gift.

How has Catholic University helped you transition to studying in the United States? In a lot of ways. Among them is the fact that, Catholic University provides me a very conducive environment to study. I have access to a lot of materials for my studies.  I have wonderful and humane professors who are always willing to listen and help. More so, Catholic University offers me opportunities to be connected with God. The truth is that I consider myself very blessed to be a student at the Catholic University.  I feel LOVED.

Is there a place in D.C. that gives you a taste of home? Yes, when I visit my aunty, or go to an African restaurant, or play soccer on Saturdays.

How do you hope your education at Catholic University will advance your career? I hope that my education at Catholic University will advance my career through the intellectual and pastoral formations that I am gaining. These will enable me to understand the needs of those I will be working with in the future, and be a pastoral disciple in their midst.

How do you stay connected to home? The only way is to call her on the phone regularly. At least to hear my mom's voice. 


Meng LinMeng Lin

Program: Master's in Economics

Where are you from? People's Republic of China

What made you want to leave home and study at Catholic University? Choosing Catholic University was easy because it is home to world-renowned professors, and offers a wide array of academic and extracurricular opportunities that a student can immerse himself or herself into depending on his or her strengths and interests. It is situated in a beautiful capital city with a tight-knit community, which gives international students a comfortable environment to study like a home away from home. 

What at Catholic University has helped you transition to studying in the United States? ISSS, the Admission office, student ministry, faculty and staff, and even the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception ... the University has provided her best and everything that she could offer to help.

How do you share your culture with other students at Catholic University? By attending different activities such as World Fair, Fall Festival, island-themed festival, and by joining student organizations and clubs.

Is there a place in D.C. that gives you a taste of home? The National Gallery of Art, Freer Gallery of Art, little boutiques in Georgetown and such.


Sarthak RegmiSarthak Regmi

Program: Mechanical engineering major with a minor in computer science

Where are you from? Kathmandu, Nepal

What made you want to leave home and study at Catholic University? After completing high school, I decided to go abroad for my studies. I wanted to try something new, something completely different from what I was used to. I wanted to travel, start living by myself and do things that made me happy. So, I applied to schools all over the world. But I was always intrigued by the liberal arts educational system of the United States. I loved the whole idea of taking classes in all different disciplines and trying to find connections between each of them. … Catholic University was one of the universities that I applied to. I was fascinated by its beautiful campus, the location in D.C, and the faith-based approach to education.

How has Catholic University helped you transition to studying in the United States? Everyone here at Catholic University has been so helpful in my transition to studying in the United States. I have met some amazing friends who have been so kind and helpful. I remember being very nervous about my Learning Community classes. I had never taken a philosophy or theology class before and did not know what to expect. But my friends helped me a lot. We used to have discussions about different philosophers and their philosophies, they told me a lot about Christianity, took me to Church and Mass. The professors here also helped me a lot. I was amazed to see how welcoming and invested they were in me. I went to them with a lot of questions and they always helped me out.

How do you share your culture with other students at Catholic University? I share a lot about my culture back home with my friends. They love the music from Nepal. I tell them my experiences and stories that I had growing up. I tell them about the huge number of festivals that we have. I'm planning to take them to some of the festivals this year. They ask me about the differences that I find in both cultures and it’s always great fun talking to them about this. I went to one of my friend's homes for Thanksgiving and had a great time there. I got to celebrate with his family and learn a lot about the different cultures here as well.

What do you miss most from home? Food, family, and friends in that given order. I miss momos. Momos are a dumpling that you have with a spicy dip. I miss them so much.

Is there a place in D.C. (a restaurant, museum, store, etc.) that gives you a taste of home? Royal Nepal in Alexandria, Va., and Ghar E Kabab in Silver Spring, Md., have amazing food that remind me of home.

How do you stay connected to home? I try my best to call my parents every day. The 14 hour time gap does come with its issues. I sometimes forget that they are in Nepal and call them during the middle of the day here, and they are like, "It's 3 a.m., let us sleep!" We have a small Nepali community here of seven people at CUA. We sometimes get together to play soccer or cricket. I also have an aunt who lives in Richmond, Va., who has helped me a lot. I visit her during some of the national festival and holidays. 


Daph LinganDaph Lingan

Program: Civil Engineering Major on the Construction Engineering and Management track

Where are you from? Philippines

What made you want to leave home and study at Catholic University? I left everyone I love and flew all the way to D.C. to pursue my biggest dream: to be able to study abroad and learn more of what I love doing, engineering. I wanted to discover more of what's in store for me. Studying at Catholic University is a life-changing experience. It helps me with more career opportunities too. 

How has Catholic University helped you transition to studying in the United States? Catholic University has a friendly environment and it was not difficult for me to adjust because of the people around me, especially my professors in engineering who helped me the most. I gained new friends, and learned so much from them — their culture, their favorite food and places. I even learned how to cook and do laundry because of my roommates. 

How do you share your culture with other students at Catholic University? I share my culture through food. I would bring home Filipino food and let my roommates try it. I am glad they loved the adobo. I would also tell them about the Philippines' famous tourist spots like Palawan's and Cebu's white sand beaches. 

What do you miss most from home? I miss everything about home: the convenience, my family, friends, family gatherings, my favorite food places I always go to, lots of Filipino food, and the white sand beaches! 

Is there anything else you would want to share about yourself or your experience here? It's really a fun experience to be an international student. Besides studying here, I get to travel with friends to different places during breaks.


Niraj BhattaraiNiraj Bhattarai

Program: Ph.D. in Physics

Where are you from? Nepal

What made you want to leave home and study at Catholic University? From the day when I started knowing a little about science, I always wanted to be a physicist. After I completed my M.S. in Kathmandu, Nepal, my supervisor suggested to me that my further goals could only be fulfilled somewhere abroad, where there are a lot of resources to exploit the research I wanted to conduct. I started seeking different options of universities around the world within my field of interest. I did a lot of research online on many universities, but I found Catholic University best for me and for my research. I am lucky to be here pursuing my Ph.D.

How do you share your culture with other students at Catholic University? There are a lot of interesting festivals and cultural aspects of Nepal. During the occasions of special festivals, I have the experience of describing the importance of celebrating such festivals and its history. I also share the typical foods of my country with classmates and friends, which they enjoy a lot. Sometimes we have cross-cultural events organised by ISSS. I find friends around the world are very excited to learn my culture and language.

What do you miss most from home? Well, I miss my family and my friends of course. My mum used to cook Ceel Roti for me, which I miss the most. 

Is there a place in D.C. that gives you a taste of home? Himalayan Heritage Restaurant in D.C. is the best place to experience Nepali food. Also there is another restaurant named Ghar E Kawab in Silver Spring. 

How do you stay connected to home? Thanks to Internet facilities and social media, such as messengers and Viber, which helps us connect frequently. 


Damilola AnjorinDamilola Anjorin

Program: Master's of Science in Management - Human Resources Management

Where are you from? Nigeria

What made you want to leave home and study at Catholic University? I needed to further my education and earn my degree at a prestigious university.

How has Catholic University helped you transition to studying in the United States? Catholic University has helped me to transition in numerous ways, such as sensitization programs, University communication, networking events.

How do you share your culture with other students at Catholic University? I share my culture with other students by communicating the symbolism of what I wear and what I do, I speak certain certain words of salutation in my dialect and tell them the meaning afterwards. They find it interesting.

What do you miss most from home? The culture and food

Is there a place in D.C. that gives you a taste of home? My church — R.C.C.G New Wine Assembly

How do you hope your education at Catholic University will advance your career? My education at Catholic University will advance my career not just based on what I studied, but in a more ethical way. Learning the virtues and values that should drive me in the spirit of enterprise is worth more.


Beatriz FernandesBeatriz Fernandes

Program: Master of Science in Management - Leadership and Management/Assistant coach for Catholic University’s women’s soccer team

Where are you from? Portugal 

What made you want to leave home and study at Catholic University? Soccer

How has Catholic University helped you transition to studying in the United States? I was already in the U.S., but ISSS made me more comfortable about the big change to the States.

How do you share your culture with other students at Catholic University? Through my soccer team essentially. Sometimes I coach with Portuguese words! They know it by now!

What do you miss most from home? Everything. The 5 senses mostly: food, views, smells, climate. My family and friends.

How do you hope your education at Catholic University will advance your career? It is a magnificent university with very knowledgeable teachers located in a city where everything can happen!

How do you stay connected to home? Internet, mostly WhatsApp 

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