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[Audio] Meet Aydan, A Murray State Student from Azerbaijan

Matt Markgraf, WKMS

Murray State University has a diverse and growing community of international students and we are interested in learning more about them. Matt Markgraf recently met AydanAslanova a student from Azerbaijan who is involved in the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority at MSU. They talk about what she's studying, her hometown of Baku, and learn why chivalry and smiling are different in the United States compared to her home country.

Aydan is a Sophomore at Murray State studying International Business, Trade and Commerce. She hopes to work in the hotel and tourism industry back home. Murray State has a good international student atmosphere, she says, and came here because of an exchange student from Murray State from Azerbaijan did a great job talking about and representing the school.

Azerbaijan is a small country south of Russia, close to Turkey, Georgia and Armenia. Formerly a part of the Soviet Union, young people grow up speaking Russian and Azeri and learn English in school. Her home city is Baku, a relatively small city, though much larger than Murray, she says, with the very prominent Flame Towers you'll see in photos (a tribute to Baku's natural gas resources). Baku is on the Caspian Sea so there's a large beach that draws tourists and an old city, one can find buildings dating back to the 16th and 17th century amidst the modern buildings.

The food is very different back home, she says, with very little fast food and soda. A lot of Arabic and Turkish style food, many dishes are centered around lamb and rice. Chivalry is a prominent social difference in Azerbaijan - where men may buy meals and help carry things for women. It works mutually, she says, adding that it's the first country in the Oriental east to give women the right to vote. If there's nowhere to sit on the bus, she says, usually men will stand up and give women seats. Another unique aspect of culture is the "western smile" - where people tend not to smile in casual conversation as it may be considered insincere - Aydan says with a laugh that people are trying to smile more.

A few years ago, Aydan was an exchange student in Florida and has visited New York and Washington DC. Growing up in Azerbaijan watching American movies she thought people took yellow buses going to school and ate McDonalds every day, but says it's very different when you come here and experience it.

Learn more at the International Students at Murray State University Facebook page.

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