In fall 2012, the Cranwell International Center counted 812 undergraduate students among its numbers.
Freshman electrical engineering major Dikchhan Tamang is one of a handful of international students from Nepal, but his situation is unique.
“I have the equivalent of a green card in the United Kingdom, but I’ve lived here too long to be considered international,” Tamang said.
Because of his unique status, he can’t apply to FAFSA or international scholarships. However, this didn’t stop him from coming to Virginia Tech. Tamang said that Tech was always a top priority.
According to the university enrollment profile, Tech received 20,191 applications. Of that number, 5,487 enrolled as part of the class of 2016. Out of those, Tamang is one of 20 Nepalese students in Blacksburg.
Tamang researched Tech and chose the electrical engineering major because of its current demand. He said Tech was also popular with friends at his high school in Woodbridge.
“I had narrowed it down to George Mason, Tech and UVa.,” Tamang said. “UVa. flat out said 'no,' and I would have to pay double as an international student, but Tech finally said 'yes.'”
Also wanting to pursue a career as an engineer, Tech seemed like an appropriate choice for Tamang.
“I always liked watching technological shows,” Tamang said. “The lights and lasers always fascinated me, and electrical engineering seemed like it would work with that.”
Tamang started searching for other Nepalese students before he even got to Blacksburg. That search led him to several different student organizations, including the Japanese Cultural Association, Korean Student Association, and Chinese Student Association.
Tamang was immediately drawn to the university’s activities as well. Holly Younce, a junior communication major, became Tamang’s big sister in the Korean American Student Association in fall 2012.
“I had no idea who he was when I was assigned to be his big,” Younce said. “At the reveal, my friends said that he and I were a perfect big and little match, and we were able to have really easy conversation once we started talking.”
Even though 9,087 students live in residence halls on campus, Tamang has found a home within his circle of friends. Younce said Tamang values community as much as any other Tech student does; she has seen Tamang’s passion for Tech’s people and organizations firsthand.
“(Tamang) is a really positive, driven person,” Younce said. “He’s really passionate about photography, and he’s a good friend.”
Like many students, Tamang has always been pushed to broaden his horizons. He comes from a traditional family, but his parents have learned much about the world from their travels.
“My grandparents don’t really get it,” Tamang said. “But my parents are well adjusted. They’ve traveled together for a long time, and they push me to know more. I can do what I want, but I can’t forget my culture.”
The typical family unit in Nepal is considerably larger than in the United States, which means the typical home in Nepal is bigger. Tamang said that adults often live with their parents, so many branches of the same family tree inhabit a home.
Tamang’s own family is large — he said he manages to meet new family members every year.
“Family presence is a massive deal,” Tamang said. “My dad’s brothers still live in their father’s home.”
Unlike his brothers, Tamang’s father moved away from home to work in different parts of the country. Though Tamang was born in Hong Kong, he was raised in the U.K., where he received most of his schooling. He said the education system in the U.K. was relaxed compared to that in Kathmandu.
“We were learning at an eighth grade level in grades four and five,” Tamang said. “The schooling is also a lot stricter in Nepal than it is here.”
Tamang also enjoys the physical exploration Tech has to offer. The general altitude in Kathmandu is 4,600 feet above sea level, so Tamang felt right at home when he came to town.