Why did you decide to study in the USA?
In my past English learning career, I have studied a lot of reading and grammar. But I still cannot fluently use English to express my own ideas with foreigners so I really do want to change this situation. Therefore, I decided to experience the “real” English in the USA.
Why did you choose the ESL Services Program at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin)?
I plan on studying English here and then returning to China to start my job. I already knew that I would only choose an intensive English program so I thought more about which city that I would like to study in. I visited Austin for vacation and specifically, I visited some places on the UT campus. The UT tower left a deep impression on me with the words inscribed on its front: YE SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE. I could not forget these words even after I returned to China. Therefore, when I decided to study English in the U.S., my first choice was UT. I intentionally avoided choosing east or west coast cities because I wanted to study in an environment where I’d be removed from my own language.
What do you like best?
The best thing I like about college in the U.S. is that I could study in a completely multicultural environment. I met people of various nationalities and we shared our different opinions about studying and life experience. The special study experience inspired me a lot about the world and my own life.
What do you miss most?
Definitely the food. However, as much as you like a city, there’s no place as warm and comfortable as home.
How has this program helped you to handle future study at a U.S. university?
I have been studying English in Austin for about 10 months. I have improved a lot in my English especially in speaking and listening. The UT ESL program has not only helped me improve my English ability, it has also helped me develop a more American way of studying. I think this will be really helpful if I want to study in the USA in the future.
What was your biggest surprise?
The biggest surprise about U.S. life and education is the various people who made my classes colorful and exciting. Most people who only ever live their own countries have a few stereotypes about other countries, including myself. However, we were patient when communicating with each other and learned about different cultures by studying the same subject: English.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
It is common that a misunderstanding happens during my conversation with other people. The most positive thing that I learned is to pay attention to and listen to other people.
What are your activities?
I volunteered for some activities such as Formula One 2017 and Explore UT. During the winter break, I visited Mexico City which was my dream place for visiting because I like to see traditional Mexican culture and my favorite artist.
How easy or difficult was making friends?
It is not easy to make native friends at the beginning of studying in the U.S. On the contrary, it is easier making friends with international students because we have a similar situation of studying and living abroad. However, making friends and studying have a similar process; both need a period time for adjusting.
How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My occupational goal is becoming a painting teacher in China. I want to learn more different educational concepts and find a good way and my own way to teaching art in China.
What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?
In my view, I suggest every Chinese student who studies abroad should prepare themselves mentally first because without your family’s care, you will eventually feel some loneliness regardless of your situation. It is essential to ask yourself why are you coming here to study and chasing your goal.
You can find a lot of interesting programs and activities that are not common in China. Think highly of the courses in your college, but also enjoy a different life outside of classes.