Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I came to America for a few weeks in the summer as a student at a language school. I loved the entire experience so much that as soon as I returned home, I told my family it would be amazing if I could go back there to continue my education. Of course, a big part of it was also the fact that American universities are prominent and recognized around the world.
Why did you choose Foothill Community College?
I found out about Foothill College from some brochures at my language school. I went to campus to check it out and immediately fell in love with the location. I was also very pleased to find out that Foothill and its sister school De Anza are ranked among top community colleges in the state. Foothill also has a great transfer support system.
What do you miss most?
After spending five years in the United States, I feel very much at home here. However, if I were to name one thing I miss the most about Russia, I would say – food!
What was your biggest surprise?
Here in California, I came to appreciate the cultural diversity. I have had a chance to become acquainted with and get to know people from many other countries, which truly sparked the wanderlust inside me.
Education-wise, I would say I was most surprised at how much freedom is given to the students as far as selecting the academic program and classes.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
I started learning English even before I went to elementary school, however, learning a language in the classroom setting is obviously very different from practicing it in real life, so I did experience difficulties at first, especially with expressing myself verbally. The truth is, though, most of the pressure comes from your own insecurities. One simple thing to always remember – nobody really cares about your accent or how many mistakes you make. People are generally very understanding, especially in the academic setting.
Living and studying in the U.S., especially in the vicinity of metropolitan areas is expensive. As soon as I came to Foothill College, I was able to get a job as an office assistant at Foothill International Office. This additional income helped me a lot.
During my time in Foothill, I also received two scholarships, which helped me a lot with my tuition.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
The adjustment was not difficult at all. If anything, it was a lot of fun. I loved the fact that I am in charge of my own curriculum.
How easy or difficult was making friends?
It really depends on your personality. Overall, I would say, it is not that difficult. The main key is to be open-minded and not be afraid to interact with people outside of your habitual circle. Studying abroad is not just about going to school in a different country – it is also about increasing your knowledge about the world and people all around it.
How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
After graduation I am intending to find a job in financial or economic field, something related to economic research and analysis to gain some valuable industry experience. Then, I would like to go back to school for my graduate degree, so that later on I could teach in college. I love the idea of helping others, and I hope I can eventually be there to mentor the younger generation.
What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?
My advice is don’t be afraid. This entire experience seems scary. The truth is, no matter what, you will be able to figure it all out, and wherever you go, you will always have resources that you can utilize and that are intended to aid you on your way. The whole experience makes you more mature and helps you grow as a person. So, regardless of what it is you are afraid of, I say – give it a shot and see where you end up, because an adventure like that is definitely worth it.