Ismael Carmona Casado's World Journey
The international student community at the University of Oklahoma has carved out an impressive legacy over time. That legacy is built and maintained by individual students, each one bringing their own experiences to weave into the university community.
International studies senior Ismael Carmona Casado’s path to OU was facilitated by the United World College’s Davis Scholar program via Hong Kong’s Li Po Chun school, although his story does not begin, nor especially end, there.
“Traveling and living abroad helps you learn about other cultures and people,” said Carmona Casado, who also is majoring in supply chain management. “But it is also a great way to learn about yourself. It gets you out of your comfort zone and forces you to connect with others.”
Carmona Casado is familiar with living outside his comfort zone. Born in Ciudad Real, a community in central Spain, he and his family moved to Valencia on Spain’s east coast when he was six years old. A decade later, Carmona Casado was already studying abroad in Hong Kong, wrapping up his prep school years.
“Things can be scary,” Carmona Casado said. “Being away from friends and family can lead to some tough times when you’re alone. I was surrounded by different people with different customs who speak different languages. But it did encourage me to connect.”
That need to connect played a role in helping Carmona Casado become fluent in three languages while working toward two others. His versatility and adaptability are the skillsets that Davis Scholars pride themselves on.
Following his stint in Hong Kong, Carmona Casado began thinking about his next stop up his academic career. That was when he set his sights on Norman, Oklahoma, and the University of Oklahoma. Carmona Casado’s ability to connect with new environments helped him gain a quick appreciation for OU and the state. His experience living and studying abroad also helped him adapt quickly.
Carmona Casado said he has found the OU community to be diverse and welcoming to international students.
“Here, you have the whole world in your hands,” he said. “We have an entire department dedicated to international students with activities and a desire to build community.”
Carmona Casado’s passion for international studies was honed from his participation in the Semester at Sea program. After sailing west from San Diego and traveling to multiple countries and continents, his knowledge of the world around him grew.
“Our classes furthered the knowledge of the places we visited,” Carmona Casado said. “We didn’t spend much time on the boat, so I was able to really appreciate the different places and people I saw and met.”
Carmona Casado also navigated OU’s study abroad program in Arezzo, Italy, last spring. His experiences learning in Norman as well as his background have helped mature the young student into an impressive young man.
“I see international studies as both an opportunity and a responsibility,” he said. “You give back to the OU community representing your country and your culture since you may be the only person from Spain your classmates meet.”