Ana Maria Sanchez from Colombia: Studies English at Sonoma State American Language Institute (SSALI) in Rohnert Park, California
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I decided to study in the USA because I saw the necessity to learn a second language for my career and also because I wanted to know many new places and people from all over the world.
How did you choose your intensive English program?
First, a friend of my family helped me to find the amazing Sonoma State American Language Institute (SSALI). He told me that it was in a big university and the program was excellent for me because it was going to help to improve my English so fast, as not many people there speak Spanish. Also, I checked the website and I saw so many good comments about SSALI.
What do you like best about studying here?
What I liked most was the people… All teachers, partners, everybody was so special to me and they helped me a lot. When you are in an environment like that is so easy to talk, learn, make friends and hang out.
What do you miss most about home?
The most I missed from home was my family, even if I talked with them every single day… I missed their hugs, and special moments… I can say I missed the food too; in USA the food is so delicious, but nothing like home.
How long have you been studying here? How has your English improved?
I studied at SSALI for 9 months. My English improved a lot. When I started, I could not understand anything about what people said, so for me it was so frustrating, but studying and going to class everyday I could say after a while that I was able to speak and understand my friends and teachers.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
My biggest surprise about USA was the traffic (speed, freeways), it was awesome. Also, people here are very busy and have so many things to do. They have a lot of fun also and they are really good people. However, I was surprised because the families in the neighbors are not so close as in my country.
.... your biggest disappointment?
Well… I think I had no disappointment in the USA; or I dare to say that I did not have enough time to enjoy everything at SSALI. I’d like to have been there a little bit more… now than I am here in my country, I miss so many things and people.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
For me, it was so hard at the beginning because no one spoke in Spanish and my English was very basic; however, it helped me to learn and I tried to make myself understood. Also, my teachers were very patient and I could improve in my second language.
I lived with a family’s friend and he paid for everything I needed, My parents sent me money too.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
The educational system is different and I was surprised when I saw how informal the relationship between teachers and students is. Also, there are more rules in the academic topics.
What are your activities?
I participated in sports activities and I loved them, I wish they had sport class in all seasons. I participated also in some trips like going to San Francisco and activities in the SSALI office. It was so fun.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
Making friends in the USA was easy for me, I like talking a lot and everybody was so kind and great! Besides at SSALI you can make friends from different places and that is a great opportunity to know through them many places and cultures.
What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My education in the USA has been so helpful for me, because at the University I had to do homework, expositions and finals in English and I had got very good results. I know studying in the USA is something that is going to help me always in the future.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering studying English in the USA?
I advice them to choose Sonoma State American Language Institute (SSALI) because they are going to learn easy and having fun the second language. I am sure they will love that experience and is something you will remember forever.