Esra Bozkurt from Turkey is studying English at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in Monterey, California.
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I want to apply for master’s program in an American university.
Why did you choose Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey?
I have to live in San Jose because of my husband, so I searched on the Internet and I saw the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. I contacted them and asked my questions about ESL program. They answered very well. After that, I decided to go to that school.
What do you like best?
I liked the different classes for different levels for each skill. For example, I took a placement test during orientation. I was placed in different levels for writing, reading and speaking instead of being placed in one level for all of my skills. I think that it helps me progress faster in each skill.
What do you miss most?
Sometimes, I want to go to a cafe or a restaurant. However, I can't have pork products and alcohol for religious reasons. That is sometimes really hard to explain with poor English. Many restaurants also can’t meet my needs. Hence, I really miss to eat out in Turkey.
What was your biggest surprise?
Before I came here, I watched a lot of American movies and TV series and I thought that life in America was like the movies. After I came here, I have noticed that everything about life is very normal and people are very natural, especially in Monterey.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
It was very difficult in the beginning. I used to be worried about speaking English, but after attending classes I feel more comfortable to speak.
America is more expensive than I thought. For example, my husband and I have only one car because of that.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
There isn't anything too big that I cannot handle. I found if I attend classes regularly and listen carefully, I can achieve my goals. Teachers really helped me to adjust to the American education system.
How has this program helped you handle future study at a U.S. university?
There are eleven points improvement between my [TOEFL] scores that I took before my first session and the score that I took at the end of the session. I also believe that if I take two or three more sessions, I won’t have problems with English in my graduate education.
What are your activities?
I am personally a homebody. However, I really want to travel to many states in USA and Central and South America’s countries during my education. Moreover, I do different activities with my classmates every Friday, like going to the movie theater or trying different world cuisines.
How easy or difficult was making friends?
I have really close friends from my classes. Actually, it is a little difficult because language is the biggest problem; I cannot keep up the conversation, so sometimes it becomes boring. Furthermore, in the U.S. people don't have much time. They usually are very busy. Because of that, if you have new friends, you cannot meet them frequently. That is another problem to make new friends.
How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
I want to get master’s and PhD degrees in education in an American university in the future, so I need good academic English skills. This program is helping me a lot to develop these skill. For example, I am learning step-by-step how I can write an academic essay in writing class. I am also learning to give an academic presentation and how I should take notes in an English lecture in oral communication class. These are the skills I need for my future education.
What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?
If other students are foreigners who have not come to the USA yet, my best advice is to watch movies without subtitles. It will improve their listening skills that they need everywhere in the USA, especially in the first month.
I have never regretted coming here. This is an amazing experience and also a very big opportunity for my future career. I want to say to other students that they should have this experience in their life and they shouldn't give up their dreams.