Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I had two big reasons for choosing the USA; I decided I must go to a country with English as a first language, I also wanted to achieve my personal goal, which is to learn about economics. The USA greatly affects the world economy. Therefore, I chose the USA to kill two birds with one stone.
Why did you choose this particular college or university? What attracted you about your school? What is special about your school and its location?
When I decided to come to the USA, my parents had a lot of worries about safety, so I searched for safe states and cities. Also, I was in the mandatory military service in Korea. I didn’t want to spend lots of time preparing for a test to enter the school after finishing the military service. So I found the ACE Program at Grossmont College. American Collegiate English (ACE) is an intensive English program on the college campus for students who don’t have a TOEFL score. When we complete ACE, we can enter Grossmont College. ACE was the biggest reason I chose this school.
What do you like best about your program or university?
The ACE program was really satisfying and helped me adapt to a new culture, professional professors, group work, etc. If I picked the one thing I liked the most; it was easy to make friends. ACE had lots of group work so I made my best friend there. It might not feel like a big issue, but I’m sure that it makes a difference to international students between having friends or not before entering college. We helped each other with homework, shared information that we missed, and also studied together.
What do you miss most about home?
I really miss Korean food and my friends, but I can predict that these are the most missed for every international student.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
I was surprised by the greeting. Everyone, including neighbors, professors, and classmates, say “How are you?”, and it makes me feel comfortable and friendly. Education in the US seems to value the why and how more than the answer. Also, professors respect students’ answers. U.S. education makes us think and solve the question, not just define and write the answer.
... your biggest disappointment?
To be honest, I really like studying in the U.S., so there is no big disappointment. But if I chose one thing that is a little bit uncomfortable, it is transportation. Compared to Korea, it’s expensive, uncomfortable, and not as clean.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
Actually, it’s hard to handle the language differences even though I have been here 8 months. However, I’m sure that it’s getting better and better. I think the best way to handle the language differences is to try over and over without fear because it takes time. There is no fast way to speak fluently in a short time.
...adjusting to a different educational system?
The educational system is different than in my country. For this reason, sometimes it’s hard to handle the differences. In my case, I ask my friend or professor to help me solve the question.
What are your activities? (clubs, sports, student associations, travel, homestay programs, special activities or trips sponsored by your program)
I participated in a beach bonfire, bus tours, and movie nights with the International Club last year. It was helpful to make new friends.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
There are some difficulties in making friends because of differences of culture and language. However, people are friendly, and it’s easy to start a conversation. Most international students and Americans have an open mind. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about starting new relationships. The most important part of making friends is adapting to a new culture and new friends. Grossmont has a lot of events and activities that help international students to make new friends. For example, ‘YouTalk’ is an activity with a great professor. It is free time for conversation with various people. Also, the International Club has different activities every month. It’s very helpful to make and meet new friends. Activities are ready for you; you just need to try them.
What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My career goal, for now, is to speak English fluently. In Korea, speaking and reading in English is the most important part to get a job. I’m sure that this goal will help me to get a job in my country. Also, it will help me to learn and understand U.S culture that people in Korea can’t experience and know.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?
Don’t be afraid and just do it. If every condition to move to the U.S is ready except your mind, then be brave. The world is much bigger and life is much longer than what we think. This chance will make you broaden your perspectives and help you to improve your English. The best way to improve language is being where the language is spoken, and not just memorizing new vocabulary or grammar. Also, you need to understand the culture; I know that moving to a new environment is difficult and might feel risky. However, I’m sure that this experience will make you a more mature person.
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