First-year student Salem Alshiban came to the University of Maine with one goal in mind: to focus on language. The Saudi Arabia native, who in addition to Arabic and English, also speaks a little Spanish, hopes that this semester of language immersion will help him reach his ultimate goal: to become a pilot.

Alshiban has traveled to the United States many times before, however his semester at the University of Maine is his first time holding residency. “I have been to Washington D.C., New York City, Pennsylvania and Boston,” Alshiban said, “but D.C. is my favorite.” In addition to traveling throughout the States, Alshiban has had the opportunity to to travel throughout Europe (Italy, Switzerland and London), Asia and the Middle East.

His love for travel is one of the many influencers that has led Alshiban to want to study aviation. However, his main reason hits close to home: his father. “I love my father,” Alshiban says. Alshiban’s father is a commercial pilot based out of Saudi Arabia and has travelled all around the world.

Alshiban’s mother is a teacher in Saudi Arabia, where the rest of his family currently resides. As a middle child, the future aviation student is one of six brothers, one of whom lives in Pennsylvania. Alshiban also has three sisters who live in Saudi Arabia as well.

“I hope to go to Orlando,” Alshiban said following his time in Orono. There, the 19-year-old hopes to begin his journey studying to become a pilot. While Alshiban does not yet have his pilot’s license, he hopes to become a commercial airline pilot and fly “the larger commercial jets.”

Gaining a fluency in English is a pivotal part in Alshiban’s journey to become an airline pilot. In the next few years, the aviation student will spend tireless hours studying aerospace engineering, logging flight hours and earning his private pilot license.

While in Orono, Alshiban hopes to practice his English and expand his connections in the States. While at the University of Maine, Alshiban hopes to join the school’s club or intramural soccer teams. A major difference between playing in Maine and Saudi Arabia is “the weather. It is so cold here. In Saudi Arabia we have desert, camels, mountains, museums and Arabic horses.” Some of those things that just cannot be found in Maine.