Kana Tran from Vietnam: Studying International Relations at Santa Rosa Junior College in California

Kana Tran from Vietnam: Studying International Relations at Santa Rosa Junior College in California

Why did you decide to study in the USA?

I have always been interested in international relations and how countries interact. I believed this is a great opportunity for me to expand my connections and meet new people from different cultures. Importantly, the quality of higher education could provide me the countless opportunities to improve my professional skills for my career.

Why did you choose Santa Rosa Junior College?

There are many factors that lead me to choose to study at Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC): Perfect location with gorgeous Sonoma County and only one hour to San Francisco. I chose SRJC because it has not only affordable tuition but also has one of the highest acceptance rates in California to UC [University of California] and CSU [California State University]. Also, with lower tuition at a Junior College allowed me to try some different classes and helped me figure out what degree I want to pursue.

What do you like best?

The thing I like the best is they have the best education resources provided to students. The Tutorial Center is available for all courses with individual assistance. Also, the English Writing Center, Math lab, and ESL provided me inspiring staff that supported me and helped me succeed with my goal.

What do you miss most?

My family and my mom’s cooking.

What was your biggest surprise?

Everybody talks about grades here.

How have you handled:

... language differences?

Don’t hesitate to ask question if you don’t understand. Also, if I am struggling with a class, I talk to my instructor and my advisor to see what the options are and how I can improve.

... finances?

My persistence to succeed in this new environment is strong enough to endure the struggles. In fact, I took advantage of the free food pantry in the school every week to avoid the ridiculously high currency. I realized I had to adapt my lifestyle to the hardships that I encountered. So, I found a job working on campus in the bookstore for my first semester.

... adjusting to a different educational system?

Because I know I’m a new learner in the foreign environment, I always start early, study in advance and read all the material before I go to class. Most importantly, I always take advantage of talking with my professors and look for help.

What are your activities?

International Student Club. The college has as Meet and Greet Event every semester for students to gather and also to meet local students and staff. The International Club meets every week and plans many activities off campus.

How easy or difficult was making friends?

In my opinion, easy or difficult to make friends in the USA depends on your interest. In general, I think people here in California are friendly and outgoing. Also, people like happy people. So just be happy, smile and let people know you like them—believe me, it will come back faster than you can imagine.            

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

My career goal is to work in the international affairs field, where I can be a part of world societies and interact with countries all over the world. Having the international relations degree will help me pursue my goal when I go back to my country, and to maybe be an international student advisor who helps students go to the U.S. to study.

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

Keep learning, talk, make friends and chase your goals! You will be in the perfect environment to improve your English dramatically and further your education. Be confident, forget about the mistakes you make, people know you are learning so they will admire you for trying. To be able to do that, you really must find friends who are not from your home country, try to make new friends by getting involved in some clubs on campus. Most importantly, believe in yourself and never give up.

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