Konoka Shiino from Japan: Studied at Foothill College and transferred to University of California, Berkeley
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
With my father’s advice, I decided to move to California to attend high school. My father graduated from San Diego State University. He believed that studying internationally would broaden perspective on the world around me.
Why did you choose Foothill College?
I wanted to put myself in a multicultural community while studying in the United States. Every year, many international students come to study at Foothill College (FH). The school has been known as one of the best community colleges in the United States.
The campus environment is beautiful and it has a high transfer rate to four-year universities. I also heard that classes offered at Foothill are as challenging as ones at four-year universities.
What do you like best?
What I enjoyed the most studying at Foothill was making friends from many countries. Even after transferring, I still keep in touch with them pretty frequently. Two years ago, I traveled to Mexico with my Foothill friends from Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Mexico. Through friendship, I learned about different cultures and countries.
What do you miss most?
I miss spending time with my family and friends in Japan.
How has this program helped you to handle future study at a U.S. university?
Professors in the U.S. assign students a great deal of writing. The amount of writing assigned by professors at UC Berkeley was far more than that at Foothill. I appreciate Foothill for their high quality education because it prepared me for the rigorous course load at UC Berkeley.
What was your biggest surprise?
Students I have met are very enthusiastic about education and social issues. They actively participate in non-profit organizations or establish their own communities to share their passion with others. Those student’s deliberate actions toward their community really surprises and inspires me.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
I studied English a lot to overcome the language barrier. I always carried around a small notebook wherever I went to write down vocabulary I heard in conversation. Every night before I went to bed, I looked up those words in the dictionary and tried to memorize and use them as much as I could with my English-speaking friends.
It is not easy to pay for high tuition at American universities. I am currently holding an Optional Practical Training (OPT) position. I am making a living with both my family’s support and my personal paycheck.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
I like the fact that the professors not only share knowledge, but also have discussions with students. The lectures that include discussion enhance students’ engagement in the classroom, improve their critical thinking skills, and public speaking skills.
What are your activities?
I was involved in study government at Foothill as an activities coordinator. Also, I was a president of the Japanese Culture Club and organized many events so that students could learn about Japanese culture. Everyone seemed to have so much fun when my team coordinated the food workshops on Onigiri and Mochi!
How easy or difficult was making friends?
Because of the language barrier, I was not able to make close friends for a few years. Joining clubs or volunteering for events is always a good way to get to know people and make friends who have similar passions to yours!
How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My career goal is to become an academic advisor at a higher education system. With this valuable study abroad experience, I would like to support students of all backgrounds by promoting their well-being.
What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?
Studying English before coming to the U.S. definitely helps a lot. Your TOEFL test scores reflect the level of your fluency in the English language and determine classes you can take. Thus, studying prior to coming here would save you time and money.
However, lack of English language skills should not discourage you from studying abroad in the U.S. I had no English speaking ability when I landed in California. I never regretted any moment studying here because I embraced and valued everything I learned, people I met, and memories I made. Step out of your comfort zone for this once in your lifetime experience because this opportunity will make you who you are and live true to yourself.
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