Ellie Cook from Hong Kong is a freshman majoring in molecular microbiology and immunology at the University of Nevada, Reno in Reno, Nevada.
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I decided to study in the USA mainly because I want to better my English skills. I’m half-American so I felt that it’d be embarrassing if I can’t speak English well. I also wanted learn more about USA because of my American heritage.
Why did you choose the University of Nevada, Reno?
There are many reasons why I chose the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) but one of the main ones are the cheap in-state tuition and its strong science programs. There’s also great undergraduate research opportunities even for first year students.
What do you like best?
UNR has a beautiful campus. The facilities are great since a lot of the buildings are new. Additionally, there are many resources available on campus so I could get help easily if needed.
What do you miss most?
I definitely miss the metropolitan urban environment in Hong Kong a lot. I relied on public transportation a lot back home and it was difficult to adjust here in Reno where it’s near impossible to get to places without a car.
What was your biggest surprise?
I was really impressed by how easily it is to study a wide variety of subjects. For instance, I’m a science major but I could major or minor in philosophy if I wanted to. It was also really surprising how easy it is to establish rapport with your teachers unlike in Asia.
... your biggest disappointment?
Like I mentioned before, I really miss the public transportation system in Hong Kong. Another disappointment is how difficult it is to be ecofriendly here in Nevada. Recycling bins are not readily available and plastic bags are still being given out at grocery stores very liberally.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
There are certainly times when it’s difficult to communicate with people because I can’t verbalize my thoughts in English. Fortunately, most people here are friendly and patient - they understand that there is a language barrier and they are willing to teach you.
I didn’t encounter a whole lot of financial difficulties because the tuition is not too expensive here.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
Getting involved on campus was tremendously helpful when I was trying to adjust to the educational system here. The advising center on campus is definitely helpful as well.
What are your activities?
There are over 200 clubs and organizations here on campus and I’m part of a couple of them. I am a member of the American Medical Students Association’s (AMSA) UNR chapter and MEDLIFE Nevada and I am one of the founding members of UNR Campus Lions Club. I am also the president of International Club.
How easy or difficult was making friends?
It is pretty easy to make friends in the USA, especially if you get involved on campus. As I mentioned earlier, everyone here is very amiable and willing to be your friend.
How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My dream is become a doctor and work in the field of public health. I was supposed to be on the liberal arts track in Hong Kong. Had I not came to America, I would’ve never known that I’m interested in medicine and go on to become a pre-med student.
What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?
If you are interested in studying in the U.S., I’d recommend you to consider what your future career goal is, because that way you can find the best program and environment for what you are interested in pursuing. My other advice would be to learn a little bit about American culture and the way people do things here prior to coming, so that it’s be easier for you to adjust life in the U.S. Lastly, never hesitate to ask for help if you are experiencing any sort of trouble. Utilize the resources that are available to you. People are usually willing to help if you ask.