Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I chose to study in the USA because the company that I was working had an office in Houston, TX.
How did you choose your intensive English program?
A friend of mine told me about the ESL program at Rice University, and after doing some research and learning about the program, I knew that it was the best fit compared to other options in Houston.
What did you like best about your program?
The teachers, for sure, were the best part of the program. All of them had the skills to teach and understood how to deal with students from different backgrounds and nationalities.
What did you miss most about home?
My family and friends.
How long did you study in the USA? How has your English improved?
I took ESL classes for 6 months and it helped me to improve my English skills tremendously. In my case, my goal was to develop my career, and studying and working in the USA definitely changed it, and helped me to move up the corporate ladder.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
I was surprised of how fast I was able to make friends and grow my network in such a short period of time. And I had a chance to meet a lot of people from different places. Even though we come from different backgrounds, when you are working on achieving the same goals, you find out that a different culture and language are not barriers anymore.
How did you handle:
... language differences?
I exposed myself as much as I could to talk to other people, especially Americans, in order to practice and improve my English skills. I was not afraid to say something wrong, and I was always paying attention to how others spoke and tried to apply that in my conversations.
I had a job before I came to the US so I was able to prepare myself financially in advance.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
The fact that the universities already have so many international students makes the transition very smooth.
What are your activities?
I keep myself busy playing soccer, indoor volleyball, sand volleyball, game night with friends, or volunteering at various events. Houston offers a lot of great events throughout the year such as the rodeo, concerts, and sports events like basketball, soccer, football, baseball, etc. In addition, traveling around the U.S. is a great way to relax and learn more about its culture and history.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
Making friends can be a big challenge for a lot of people, but it only takes a simple step: say “hi” to somebody, introduce yourself, talk about your background or start a conversation that might lead to a friendship. The easiest way to make friends is when you are doing something that you like, and find other people with the same interests, which helps to build a connection. It is important to be open to say “yes” when people invite you for events, and to give others the chance to get to know you, and to get to know them as well.
What are your career goals?
My career goal is to achieve a high-level management position, and my education in the U.S. has contributed directly to my development. Having the opportunity to exchange experiences with other students helps me with my personal goals, and gives me ideas of how things can be done differently.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?
Going to another country to study might seem intimidating and costly, but what you can gain is priceless. If you are considering studying in the U.S., you should do some research about what the university can offer, the city where you will be located, the living costs, and prepare yourself to fully immerse in the program. I totally recommend it, not just for what you can learn at school, but also for the life experience. Studying abroad is a unique opportunity to explore a new country, new cities, try different kinds of food, meet interesting people, and also learn more about yourself.