Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I decided to enter a U.S. summer program because I had never taken a summer program before and I wanted to experience an American campus before applying to a degree program. I also knew that Intensive English Language Program at Salem State gave students the chance to study university courses in addition to the English program.
Why did you choose Salem State University?
I chose my summer program after I did some research online and asked for my cousin’s advice. I liked Salem State (SSU) because of its rich, historic location, Halloween festival, and peaceful neighborhood. Salem State is famous for its cultural diversity which I was looking for, as the well-known quality of its Intensive English Language Program. I wanted to study at a university-based English program to have the ability to conveniently transition to an undergraduate program at the same school.
What do you like best?
The thing I like best about studying here is basically the atmosphere. There is a fair and friendly relationship between the professors and students which is rarely seen in my country. This makes the educational process easier and more comfortable because we can share our opinions without any embarrassment.
What do you miss most?
I missed my family and the Vietnamese street food that I ate every day after school.
What was your biggest surprise?
My biggest surprise about U.S. life and education was how comfortably people and students here speak about their thoughts and opinions.
... your biggest disappointment?
My biggest disappointment was that it took me longer than I thought to understand the American communication style. Americans use quite a lot of slang, idioms, expressions, etc. … and they talk fast! When I first arrived, I thought my speaking and listening skills were too low, which made me nervous whenever I had a conversation. However, now I answer phone calls and student questions at my job on campus without struggling.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
It was a challenge for me to practice English regularly because I lived with my aunt and grandma who only speak Vietnamese at home. I tried to speak with my cousin who was born here and asked my professors to help with my pronunciation. Fortunately, they all were so nice and ready to fix my Vietnamese-English accent. Over time, I became more active in campus life so I had many more chances to communicate in English.
I picked Intensive English Program in Salem State because of its affordability. With my parents’ support, I could handle the tuition and fees at Salem State. The university also provides multiple options for students to pay, including a monthly payment plan.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
I am a person who likes to try new things and experiences. Therefore, I did not really have any difficulty in adjusting to a different educational system. I was looking to make memories and gain experience, so I approached things with an open mind.
The Intensive English Program in SSU helped me a lot in improving my weak skills such as listening and speaking, and strengthening my other skills. I felt more confident to communicate and apply to the undergraduate business program.
What are your activities?
I got involved in some activities on campus such as being an executive board member of the International Student Association and working in the Center for International Education.
How easy or difficult was making friends?
People here are quite friendly. Along with involving in some campus activities, I found it easy to make friends.
How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
Taking the summer English program was the first step for me to achieve my future goal as being an accountant or diplomat. I think most employers are impressed with applicants who have lived and studied abroad. Such an experience provides a valuable education and greater insight. Furthermore, by taking summer courses and by choosing the USA, I am aware that I am studying in one of the world’s largest and most influential economies.
What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?
My advice to other students is to be confident, be active, and be connected!