Finding Home

Finding Home

International students face different choices as they consider life after Colby

By Gerry Boyle '78 | Photos by Fred Field


Relying on parents after graduation may be a letdown of sorts for any college graduate, but not for Adriana Nordin Manan ’07, who commutes to her investment job from her home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia—with her mother.

As her mother makes her way to her job in the downtown offices of ExxonMobil, Manan heads for the skyscraping Petronas Twin Towers (the world’s tallest building from 1998 to 2004), a short distance away. Her division of the quasi-governmental company works on issues facing the country, from new industry to renewable energy. It’s not exactly what she was looking for when she started down what she called “the” job-hunt route as a Colby senior, but Manan said she’s content in Kuala Lumpur.

“I really am,” she said. “I knew that, from pretty soon after I came home. It was definitely a case of following my heart.”

Her heart already had told her she would only stay in the United States for the post-graduation year allowed by her visa, she said. When a job didn’t materialize before commencement, and with general elections coming up at home, Manan grudgingly began to consider the alternative.

“After graduation, summer was the perfect time for me to sit and think to myself, what is it that I think is important in my life?” she said. “Where do I think I want to be? Try as I might, I saw myself being so excited about the possibilities of being back in Malaysia.”

And while Manan, like most international students, doesn’t rule out graduate school in the United States, she said she has returned home a very different person from who she was when she left.

Now, Manan said, she is able to think critically, to question policies and positions in a respectful way. She understands how global trends affect countries and has a much keener insight into the dynamics of the United States than she would have if she had stayed in Malaysia.

“If I had been in Malaysia, I wouldn’t have known about the intricacies of U.S. society, issues of race and class, things that every country goes through,” Manan said.

“I have to say I benefited from the best thing in the U.S., which is its education system in terms of college, its liberal arts education system. I’m very thankful for that.”

Another gift from the States left her less pleased.

“People sometimes say I have an American accent,” Manan said, laughing. “No offense to anyone, but I’m just, ‘Oh, dear.’”

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