By Kassia Koshbaeva
"And these are for you," said Mrs. Vinson handing me multiple boxes wrapped in beautiful wrapping paper. Standing next to her, Mr. Vinson was smiling. "But I don't celebrate Christmas!" I said in a surprise as I was trying to remember whether I mentioned that fact earlier or not. "We know, but since you are spending the holiday season with us this year, we want to include you and make you feel welcome." I knew that I would learn a lot about American culture which is so new and different to me, but I didn't know that I would become part of it. I expected a lot of things from a study abroad program. However, I didn't expect me to tear up because I was so touched by the American family that has "adopted" me.
Studying abroad in the United States has changed my life in many ways. First of all, I was able to open up for change. It is difficult to stay stubborn, when you can not find the usual beetroot salad that was part of my daily diet back home. I had a positive, welcoming environment and a good overall cultural growth experience. Secondly, I was able to learn more about the culture for which I had so much prejudice. All I knew about the United States was gathered from American movies (sometimes not best to represent this country). Thus, I was positively surprised and became part of many celebrations. Third, and most important, I was able to improve my English tremendously which opened up endless opportunities for me. I wanted a university with a good reputation that would positively affect my future career. Lastly, politics and economics played a big role in my choice of country. My family and I wanted stability in the government and economy of the country in which I planned to study.
Students from all around the world
More than 4.5 million higher education students participate in a study abroad program every year. That number has steadily increased over the past few decades. The United States, France, and Germany have long been the top three countries receiving international students, with Australia and the United Kingdom more recently following suit.
Among the countries where students come from, China particularly showed an increase in the number of students participating in study abroad programs. More and more Chinese students are heading overseas to study. In fact, China continues to be one of the leading countries sending students to study abroad and this demand for overseas education remains strong. According to the report of the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, approximately 608,400 Chinese students chose to pursue advanced studies overseas.
In my personal experience, choosing University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) was based on multiple factors; one of which was low tuition cost. Universities in Midwest America tend to have lower tuition and fees compared to the universities in large cities.
English language learning
What if you are not confident about studying in an American university because of your lack of English-language proficiency? I have great news for you: a lot of universities in the United States offer language programs that will help you feel equipped with necessary academic and language skills to succeed. The Language Company (TLC) was the first place to address my concerns regarding my English language skills. Located on the UCO campus, The Language Company offers multiple programs to choose among according to your needs. The Language Company can provide you with official documentation that will allow you to apply for the student visa. Some students come to study English language only; others continue their study at a university in the U.S. Regardless of your goal, TLC will be able to accommodate you in one of the classes.
Experience at TLC is essential for many students who want to learn both the language and the culture — the company offers not only English classes but also many out-of-the-curriculum activities such as holiday celebrations and road trips. TLC provides you with the opportunity to choose your accommodation: whether it be on campus, off campus, or homestay with an American family. TLC has multicultural personnel, thus allowing them to respond to your questions and inquiries even if you email them in Chinese. Thus, you should not hesitate to contact us here at The Language Company to learn more about your future study abroad experience.