Alvin Gunawan from Indonesia: Earned an Associate in Arts Direct Transfer Degree from Shoreline Community College and transferred to University of California at Berkeley

Alvin Gunawan from Indonesia: Earned an Associate in Arts Direct Transfer Degree from Shoreline Community College and transferred to University of California at Berkeley

Why did you decide to study in the USA?

My parents had always been longing for me to go study in a country with one of the world’s leading education systems. I grew up frequently seeing USA on the news talking about their blossoming technology and the diverse group of people. My interest in gaining knowledge and meeting many different kinds of people led me to decide to come here.

Why did you choose Shoreline Community College?

I had been planning to attend a community college first before transferring to a university and obtaining my bachelor’s degree. My brother attended a college in Seattle before too and he loved it since there are many good foods and friendly people. Convinced by my brother’s wonderful experience, I decided to go to Seattle. I applied to Shoreline Community College since their STEM classes are competitive and rigorous compared to other schools.

What do you like best?

The advisors of Shoreline Community College are extremely helpful in building our path to obtain a degree. With their proper guidance, taking classes at Shoreline Community College is much more enjoyable. I also really like the small classrooms. The distance between the professor and students becomes closer and students can engage and learn more. Professors also hold office hours and we can ask about anything.

What do you miss most?

The one thing that I really miss is all the street food back in Indonesia.

What was your biggest surprise?

The typical education system in Indonesia is where students are usually spoon-fed. In high school, we were given a fixed schedule with classes we don’t choose. Here we get to choose whatever classes we would like as long as we fulfill all the requirements.

... your biggest disappointment?

Getting a scholarship from the U.S. is relatively difficult especially if you are an international student. Shoreline Community College does offer a scholarship to several continuing international students which I received.

How have you handled:

... language differences?

My fluency in English was quite well when I first arrived in the U.S., but living here and being immersed in the English-speaking society improved my English skills. I also learned many short phrases from different languages to try to communicate better.

... finances?

With a high currency exchange rate, everything in the U.S. from just a meal to clothes seems more expensive. I usually get a certain amount of monthly allowance from my parents for my rent and personal expenses and I keep track of my cash flow.

... adjusting to a different educational system?

For me, the best way to adapt to the new system is to accept it and try my best. I think asking seniors with the same majors about the tips and tricks to adapt is very helpful.

What are your activities?

I am currently involved in my dance club where I can relax from my daily academic routine and refresh my mind. Other than this, I was also involved in the Indonesian Student Club and was the co-creator of Adventure Builders Club, an event creating club.

How easy or difficult was making friends?

I was actually very surprised by how friendly people are in the U.S. In Indonesia people are usually very exclusive and cautious of people they just meet. However, here in the U.S. you can basically make friends with anyone you approach; just remember to respect their personal space and not go overboard.

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

In the long term, I actually plan to go back to Indonesia to fulfill my goal: helping my country regarding their energy and/or waste issues. Studying in the U.S. where the most advanced technologies are makes me want to search for a job here first and gain experience before going back home.

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

Never get discouraged by what people tell you. You might have taken the non-conventional path of going to a community college like I did, but don’t let people tell you that that affects your capability to pursue higher education. Prove them wrong by working hard and achieving what you thought you never could.

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