Why did you decide to study in the USA?
When I visited a production site at home, I saw that there was a lot of waste materials from production and wanted to learn how to change that. My sister lives and works in Michigan, so I attended a school in Ohio. Once I finished my masters, I wanted to learn something more technical. My sister is the same technical field and lives in Kalamazoo, so I started looking at programs in Kalamazoo Valley. Some of my friends started at KVCC but then transferred to WMU, so I decided to study here. I really like the courses and curriculum.
Why did you choose this particular college or university? What attracted you about your school? Please mention such factors as location, reputation, courses offered. What is special about your school and its location?
When I was looking at some of the programs and languages I wanted to learn, I saw that Kalamazoo Valley was offering a lot of programs I was interested in. I want to make a good academic base, and Kalamazoo Valley is a good way to make a base to transfer to another place. It is also very affordable here. I can transfer to another university, but I wanted to start with a technical background first. My family is here too.
What do you like best about your program or university?
The best thing about Kalamazoo Valley is the faculty. In the classes I take, the faculty have great knowledge, and they are so supportive. When I was in my first semester, I took my first class of programming. My teacher was so helpful and would assist me on the weekends at a coffee shop. I was so impressed. She went beyond her responsibilities and job to help me become successful, and she has done this multiple times when I needed it. The teachers are really good. You can start from scratch and learn from there. You learn basic steps first to start developing your skills.
I like the campus locations; one is in Texas Township, which is very close to my house. It has really nice facilities comparable to the universities. I like the gym facilities a lot. The downtown campus is really cool, perfectly located and has great parking.
I also love the culinary building. It has awesome facilities. If someone wants to become a chef, they have a really great place to learn. I have taken special workshops offered by the culinary program. I go every time they have a class. Kalamazoo Valley also has a program for brewing, and I want to take some classes.
What do you miss most about home?
I miss my family, my parents and the food.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
The culture was totally different. The study style is different. At home, we took six subjects a year and then took a big test. Here it changed to semesters, and I take fewer subjects at a time. At KVCC the programs are designed really well. The instructors know what the market wants. I was surprised when I started classes how much they know the market situation and what the companies want. When they need to, professors change the class material to match what companies’ need and want. For example, I learned HTML programming, which many of my friends don’t know. I can assemble and build a whole computer on my own after learning it in my hardware class.
... your biggest disappointment?
There is no big disappointment. The only thing I would like to address is the fees. Because I am an international student, I cannot get financial aid, and I have some higher fees. I cannot take less credit like local students do. I have to take 12 credits to maintain my status, sometimes that’s a lot of studies and a lot of assignments to finish on time.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
I haven’t faced any problems with language differences because I have studied in English all of my life.
I borrow money from my parents. I used to work on-campus and off-campus. I borrow money from my family, and I pay it back bi-monthly.
The cost of living in Kalamazoo is pretty affordable compared to other cities. If you get a good job after graduating, you will be able to pay off the loan easy.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
The KVCC program was really tough. I had to study really hard for an associate degree. I have to study for 6-8 hours every day. I haven’t studied programming before; it is all new, so I put in the hard work and dedicated myself to studying. The second semester I didn’t have to study as much but still 5-6 hours a day. I relax on the weekend to take a break.
The teachers push you so much. If you want to learn, you have to finish your stuff on time. If you have a little bit of IT background, it would be really easy. But for me, it was all totally new. I wanted to give it a shot and try. If you don’t jump in the water, you won’t learn how to swim.
The size of the classroom is very important. The classroom sizes at the larger universities are much bigger with 60-70 people. Here the biggest class is 30 students. The teachers have a personal touch. In my programming class, when I raised my hand the teacher would come up to me and show me what I was doing wrong. If you are struggling, they will take time for you- even on the busiest days- then move to the next student.
The facilities in the class are really good. We had to build a whole desktop and we were provided with everything we needed. We were shown step by step how to build a computer.
The other students are also very helpful. I have made so many friends here. The tutoring center is also really good. You can talk to them and they are eager to help you. If you are stuck, go there.
I haven’t felt any racial things. I haven't faced any racial things in the states anywhere.
What are your activities? (Clubs, sports, student associations, travel, homestay programs, special activities or trips sponsored by your program)?
I was the Vice President for the International Student Association. Last year we tried to get all of the intrnational studnets together to do elections for the student group. I made alot of good connections with other international students from all over the world. It is pretty cool to learn about others’ culture. If you understand others’ food, language and cultures it is good; I get a lot of exposure here. I listen to news about their cultures and I am learning that what the media says is not always true.
I am a member of the computer club. I went to Texas for an IT conference. There are a lot of competitions that happen at these conferences. All of my expeneses were paid by the school and it is awesome that you can go to some conferences. Eight students went with some faculty.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
It is really easy to make friends. Sometimes there are cultural issues but mostly making friends is really easy here and I have friends from all around the world. I have less Indian friends than other international friends.
I have American friends here in my program. They are pretty cool and they are open to talk about culture and they are good about being helpful and answering my questions in class.
What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
I am planning to finish my associates from KVCC and try to get a job in data analytics or financial analytics. I want to use my business skills and computer skills together. The US education will be really relevant to my country because of my language skills and technical training. There is a great influence of the Western market in India. It will be really easy for me to get a good job at home, but I want to stay here.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?
Get your Visas ready and you can always come to Kalamazoo Valley. It is cheap and good and safe. The cost of living in Michigan is very affordable.
The education is really good, even if you want to begin with a foundation it will be a really good place to start. You will definitely get a good job if you study hard.