Olga Sirenko from Ukraine: Studying AS Computer Programming at San Jose City College

Olga Sirenko from Ukraine: Studying AS Computer Programming at San Jose City College

November 2nd, 2021

1. Why did you decide to study in the USA?

Silicon Valley is the place where many innovative technologies are being invented and developed, so I thought where else I can study innovative technology, if not here.


2. How did you choose your intensive English program? Please mention such factors as location, reputation, special programs offered. What attracted you to your particular school? Why is it a special place?

San Jose City College

  • Placed in the heart of the technological world. There are companies like Google, Tesla, Apple, PayPal, Instagram, YouTube just steps away from campus. I can visit them and see them with my own eyes. Also, there are a lot of meetups, exhibitions, and presentations about new technologies. 
  • Teachers who teach classes have real experience and teach how to write code and solve real-world problems.
  • Absolutely amazing nature and the ocean – It left an unbelievable impression on me.
  • Special international student program counselors who take care of all your needs and provide support and all the needed information so you don’t feel lost.

3. What do you like best about studying here?

There are a lot of resources for students that can help you succeed. I like the events and trips offered by the San Jose City College. 

4. What do you miss most about home?

I miss my friends and relatives the most.

5. What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?

I was surprised by how open and easy-going people are here. They have much fewer restrictions and limits. People are open-minded and not afraid to express themselves and they respect each other’s differences.

6.  ... your biggest disappointment?

Food!  There is a lot of fast food and readymade food. In general, America isn’t a culture of food.

7. How have you handled:

... language differences?

When I came to the USA, I understood that I did not have sufficient knowledge of English. That’s why I started at an Intensive English Program from a SJCC language partner school. The English Program allowed me to enter SJCC after I reached the level of English required. It was easier to study English while being immersed in the native environment.

8. ... finances?

Yes, I have to think ahead. That’s why it makes sense to check all fees and expenses on the website https://www.sjcc.edu/future-students/international-students/tuition-and-fees

9.... adjusting to a different educational system?

I like the local education system. You have a list of required subjects to obtain a certificate, degree, or transfer but you can plan ahead to decide when to take the courses to better fit your needs. There is way more flexibility here than at my home country’s educational institutions. And you can take additional classes that you enjoy.

10. What are your activities (clubs, sports, student associations, travel, homestay programs, special activities or trips sponsored by your Intensive English Program)?

I had a chance to travel around, visit technological meetups and exhibitions, and to swim in the Pacific Ocean. I compete in the National Federation of Bodybuilding in California and I am a member of the Robotic Club.

11. How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?

I think it depends on how well you are with people and what your expectations are. I would say I have a lot of acquaintances and who knows, hopefully, one day they will be my dearest friends.

12.  What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?

I had the possibility to work part-time at a big technology company during my studies. I look forward to doing one year of OPT (Optional Practical Training) after I finish my degree. Having an American education and international work experience plus being fluent in English, definitely makes me stand out compared to other candidates. I have the chance to get a good position and a nice salary.

13. What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering studying English in the USA?

The US is a huge country with unbelievable places for travel and unbelievably friendly people.  Be open to discovering the country, the people and yourself.  Be ready to study hard and enjoy your time. Don’t believe in all the myths about the US– bust them! 


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