Abraham Martinez Ornelas from Mexico: Studying English at the University of Texas at Austin

Abraham Martinez Ornelas from Mexico: Studying English at the University of Texas at Austin

Why did you decide to study in the USA?

The U.S. offers so many opportunities for my development. For me, it is essential to be involved in an academic environment in the country where I want to continue my studies. Furthermore, I think about the experience that I could have in a personal and professional aspect. Thereby, I can have better opportunities in my country. 

Why did you choose the University of Texas at Austin?

My choice was based on my professional and personal needs. Fortunately, everything was combined at University of Texas (UT) Austin. I had the intention to study a specialized English course, something focused in the academic aspect. The points that I mainly consider were the contents of the program, the experience of the faculty, the institution, and the artistic and cultural events around the city, that was a key element in my decision. UT Austin has one of the top engineering schools in the country, and there are many top tech companies in town. Apart from that, Austin is a really fun city—the music scene is great, there are a lot of young people here, and it’s a very international population.

What do you like best?

The opportunity to do many activities simultaneously: To study, to work on campus, to meet new friends, to join clubs and organizations for students, to live in this city and hang around on weekends—lots of activities!

What do you miss most?

My family, friends and the places where I used to hang out.

How has this program helped you to handle future study at a U.S. university?

I have studied for almost a year. In my opinion, it is an enormous progress. I have expanded my knowledge in all aspects (grammar, reading, listening, speaking, etc.).

What was your biggest surprise?

The organization and the resources. For example, the instructors here all have a detailed syllabus for the semester, and we can track our progress in course management software. In Mexico, my professors often didn’t use that kind of organization, so we weren’t sure what we would study from day-to-day. We also have access to a much wider range of facilities here in the U.S.: computer labs, gyms, music practice rooms, and so on.

... your biggest disappointment?

I haven’t really had disappointments, but the summer weather in Austin was a surprise. In Mexico City, we are at a higher elevation, so the weather is cooler year-round. Austin winters are mild, but the summers are really hot and sweaty! I wasn’t prepared for that.

How have you handled:

... language differences?

This experience pushes you to do what you have to do, and to overcome any situation. Also, most people are gracious and they try to help you.

... finances?

Fortunately, my parents and family support me in that aspect. Also, I try to manage and control my expenses. I have the opportunity to receive a scholarship and to work on campus, and these help me a lot.

... adjusting to a different educational system?

At the beginning, I didn’t know about the educational system. Since your first class, you realize how it is, and how it works, and little by little you are engaging without difficulties.

What are your activities?

At ESL UT Austin, there are a lot of social activities, clubs and organizations. I participated in talk time and typing club. In fact, at the end of last semester we founded a music international organization; this was an amazing experience. I have also participated in community activities, such as joining a cultural and theatre collective. It is quite rewarding.

How easy or difficult was making friends?

Local people are really friendly. Also, there is huge variety of people here from different nationalities. Thanks to this, I have met not just the people, but also their culture and language.

How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country? 

I want to do a master’s degree in the U.S. One of my future goals is to apply my experience in my country.

What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?

Give yourself the opportunity to study English in a formal and different way. This is a unique experience that you just have to live, it is not just a professional experience, it is a life experience.

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