Mariajesus Elgueta from Chile: Studying Nursing at Seattle University

Mariajesus Elgueta from Chile: Studying Nursing at Seattle University

Why did you decide to study in the USA?

I decided to study in the USA because it would bring a lot of opportunities in the future. In addition, I wanted and needed to learn English because as a nurse it is very important to be able to speak more than one language to provide quality of care to a wider range of people.

Why did you choose Seattle University?

I chose to study at Seattle University because of its location and its outstanding academic excellence in the nursing program as well as in the school of law. I wanted to grow as a person and acquire leadership skills to promote change in the healthcare system back in my home country and help patients in the most difficult time of their lives. Besides all of this, many hospitals are located near this university.

What do you like best?

What I like the most about Seattle University is the small class size because it allows me to ask questions in class and permits me to have a closer relationship with faculty and staff. I also love the food at this place.

What do you miss most?

What I miss the most is the social lifestyle.

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

I’ve been studying here for three years. When I first came here, I had a very hard time trying to communicate in English. On the contrary, I am fluent now even though I still find myself struggling sometimes but I try to improve on a regular basis.

What was your biggest surprise?

It surprised me to know that most students in the U.S. work, volunteer for events and do other activities besides studying.

... your biggest disappointment?

My biggest disappointment is that I have found a lot of cultural and educational gaps between what American people learn from other parts of the world.

How have you handled:

... language differences?

I’m so grateful to have family members living in Seattle because they have always been there for me helping me improve my English skills. Also, it was very important to have friends who would speak to me in English only. Last, it is essential not to feel ashamed when expressing ourselves in English because it’s necessary to practice and make mistakes in order to improve.

... finances?

I’m lucky to have a mother who can financially support my education. I’ve gained academic scholarships and grants and that has helped me reduce the academic expenses to half. I also work on campus to have money to spend on myself.  

... adjusting to a different educational system?

At the beginning, everything was confusing but by researching, asking American friends and with the help of advisors I have been able to learn, adapt and succeed without major complications.

What are your activities?

I have volunteered at two hospitals and I have been involved in the music, the Hispanic and the social justice clubs. I’m a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Tau Sigma and Alpha Sigma Nu honor societies. Last, I’m a member of the Alfie Scholars at Seattle University.

How easy or difficult was making friends?

Making friends in the USA is harder than it is back home. I have become closer to people who are also from other parts of the world because we share more similarities than with American people.

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

I’m focused on achieving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I plan on completing one year of an OPT at a hospital in United States. After that, I would like to either continue working as a RN nurse or go back to school to get a master’s or a doctoral degree.

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

I would advise them to trust themselves and to never give up. The road may be rough but that will give them even more strength to improve and achieve their goals.
I would also advise them to search for scholarships and to apply for everything they are interested in because there are a ton of opportunities. They should try getting involved as much as they can in activities such as volunteering or being a member of an organization. This is valued in American society especially when applying to programs, scholarships and jobs.

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