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Student of the Month: Hoby Randrianimanana
Hometown: Antananarivo, Madagascar
Major: Journalism

Each month we choose a student for the OISS Student of the Month that exemplifies and highlights everything it means to not only be a Spartan but an international Spartan. We choose these students based off of their accomplishments, as well as their participation in the community. For the month of April, OISS chose: Hoby Randrianimanana.

Hoby Randrianimanana is from Madagascar, an island off the east coast of Africa. Hoby is originally from the capital city of Madagascar: Antananarivo or “Tana” as he calls it. Tana is a large city with a population of roughly over a million people. Like any capital city, it is home to many government office buildings and the largest university in Madagascar.

It is in one of these government office buildings that Hoby’s journey to the United States started. Hoby was an intern at the US Embassy working for Education USA. The internship was an advisory role for those who wanted to come to the United States to study. Among his responsibilities were knowing how to apply, how to find housing, and teaching students how to handle culture once they arrived in the U.S. After some time at Education USA, Hoby didn’t want to advise anymore, he wanted to experience and study in the U.S for himself.

Hoby applied for Fulbright IIE-a scholarship program that focuses on cultural immersion and understanding of another country- four times. The first three times he didn’t find the program that was right for him. It was on the fourth time that he got his MSU acceptance, and with the encouragement of some friends who had previously gone to MSU, Hoby decided he was going to become a Spartan.

Two things shocked Hoby immediately upon his arrival to East Lansing: one was the weather and the other was the types of food that Americans eat. In Madagascar, Hoby explained, the lowest temperature got to 45oF, while in Michigan it can get to subzero temperatures anytime from December to March.

With regards to food, Hoby explained, in Madagascar, the main foods that people eat are comprised of fresh vegetables and produce, while during ‘fancy’ occasions or parties pre-made foods such as pizza or what Americans would consider ‘junk food’ would be served. Hoby was also shocked to find that vegetables and fresh produce are very expensive to buy in the United States, while the food that is considered to be ‘fancy’ back in his country is cheap and bought regularly by Americans.

Now with only one month left in his graduate program in Journalism, Hoby feels like he has found a new home here in the US. He says that he feels this way because of the interactions that he has had with his professors and peers in his program. Hoby says that the professors in his program make him feel like he has an important role in the community. Specifically, Hoby cites the Grad studies Director of Journalism pushing him to participate in class, and inviting him to spend Christmas with the Director’s family.

In his free time, which is minimal between school and his internship in Lansing at a PR firm, Hoby likes to go to international events. Hoby especially likes events held by Bridge International, which is an organization that holds events for international students to experience American culture-such as sports, and Thanksgiving. Hoby also likes to watch soccer, basketball, and is interested in football but doesn’t really know how is played. Hoby also volunteers for Operation Smile, an organization that treats people with cleft lips and palates. Hoby has been volunteering for them for three years now and has traveled to numerous countries helping those affected with cleft pallets.

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Hoby’s favorite activity is to drive. Upon arriving in the US he applied for a driver’s license, and since then he has loved it. It makes him feel so free and in his opinion, it is the only way to really experience the United States. His favorite memory is a road trip that he took with two other friends in which they visited 13 states in two weeks. If there is one piece of advice he would give to International Students it would be to get a driver’s license, “Just go for it, of course, you will have some failures, but keep going. Exploring this country is a priority”.

With about two more years left in his program, Hoby is already looking towards the future. Like many international students, he would like to stay in the US and will apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) which will allow him to say in the US up to another year. But it is most likely that he will either go back to his previous job in Madagascar, help out with his brothers’ small business, or set up a small PR consultancy. However, Hoby hopes that he will find a position as a PR consultant for a big international company or NGO. His dream job is working for the United Nations internationally. One thing is for sure: Hoby will try his best to fulfill his dreams and will not be afraid to take a leap of faith.

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Mitchell Timmerman is currently a senior majoring in both Social Relations and Policy, as well as Economics. He will be graduating in May of 2018 with his degree in SRP, and again in December of 2018 with his degree in Economics. Mitchell plans after graduation include working in Economic Development as well as continuing to write for his blog.