Finding a Way From France

A stylish, 21-year-old girl sits across the table, glamorously out of place, on the ground level of Santa Monica College’s Bundy Campus where she, Shyrel Haddad, awaits for her classes to begin. “I understand more than I speak,” she tells me, “I understand everything in class… almost.” Haddad lets out a laugh, “It depends on the class.”

Moving from Paris, France, when she was just 19 years old, Haddad has adjusted well to her life in Santa Monica, California. “I didn’t know anything. I didn’t even know ‘How are you?’ Nothing.” After about a year of ESL classes and lots of studying, Haddad was considered fluent enough to pursue her education at SMC. Having taken on the role of an “international” student by coming to Santa Monica, Haddad spent a lot of time on the school website for guidance. “You’re going to laugh,” she warns when asked about choosing Graphic Design as her major, “I didn’t know what to do. I was on the SMC website and I was looking for each major…I was like ‘Okay! I’m going to do it.’ So I told my dad that I’m going to try it and if I don’t like it, I’m going to change.” With this in mind, it seems Haddad could not have ended up in a better place.

SMC is a welcoming community to those who are a little unsure. Haddad, herself, found this to be true on her first visit to SMC. “When I came, I didn’t know how to come to SMC. I just came to the main campus, I went into one office - I don’t even know which one I went - and they told me, ‘Okay, you should go there’…You find your way, it’s super easy,” she continues, “It’s easy for us to communicate to each person at SMC.”

Haddad has enjoyed the freedom she’s had to explore SMC, both on the map, and in classes. This is her first semester studying graphic design and remains optimistic about her future here. When asked if she’d like to stay in LA after finishing her studies, Haddad couldn’t help but smile at the possibilities that presented themselves in her mind.

“I don’t know, I’ll see," she said.