Clara Degez from France is studying for her Associate in Art Transfer Degree at Edmonds Community College in Edmonds, Washington.
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I decided to study in the USA to improve my English, being aware that mastering this language is now essential in a world more and more interconnected. I also went here since at the end of high school I was really undecided about what I wanted to study.
Why did you choose Edmonds Community College?
I chose Edmonds Community College because I came with a French organization, called ISPA, that offers different destinations in the USA and Seattle was one of them. I chose this particular college among the others because I know other French who used to study there and that have been greatly satisfied by their experience. Washington state also seemed appealing to me due to its really natural and ecological environment, a really important characteristic for me since I may be interested in studying ecology.
What do you like best?
What I like most is the relationship between students and teachers. Indeed, I view their interaction as pretty friendly and informal compared with France, which creates a nice studying environment less stressful.
What do you miss most?
I believe what I miss most is of course my family and my friends.
What was your biggest surprise?
My biggest surprise may have been the relationship between people in general more friendly, outgoing but also less judgmental. Education is freer in all aspects, since here students can choose their classes and have a closer relationship with their teachers.
... your biggest disappointment?
My biggest disappointment may be the cost of education here. Before coming to this country, I knew college education was expensive but I did not expect all the other costs, like buying books for example.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
At first, I had some difficulties speaking more than anything else, which has become easier and easier as the time went by, even if it is still hard sometimes.
My parents are paying for my studies and I don’t have any loan. I received a scholarship
this quarter which covers only a very small part of the total cost, but it still helps and is very appreciated.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
I had a hard time during the first weeks due to this new educational system. I did not really know what to expect from the way the teachers grade students’ work. I discovered it was pretty different from the French way, since teachers are not as picky and try to grade more the understanding of a concept in a global way than the details, more to see the effort put into the work than the actual result.
What are your activities?
I am also really concerned about animal rights and I sometimes go to Seattle for some vegan demonstrations. In the college, I am part of a club called “Bridges” in which students, mostly international, spend time together for discussions or games. I am also in the running club.
How easy or difficult was making friends?
I found at first that it was really easy to make friends in this country, people being less judgmental, more outgoing and open-minded. Then, I also had some doubts about the sincerity of the friendships I had built, finding them somehow too superficial. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that American people are too superficial (most of my friends are international anyway), but that building friendship in a foreign language is harder.
How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
I would like to work in the field of ecology, even though I don’t know exactly in what extent since it is a really broad discipline. The environmental issue represents for me the number one issue on this planet, and English being the most international language, I assume that to deal with a worldwide issue, mastering a world language is a real asset.
What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?
I advise other students from France to go to the U.S. if they have the chance to do so, not to be shy about speaking a bad English but to reach out to others as soon as possible and finally not to stay only with other French students.
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