Samuel Sam from Ghana is in his first year at Chemeketa Community College in Oregon where he’s studying to become an electronic engineering technician

Samuel Sam from Ghana is in his first year at Chemeketa Community College in Oregon where he’s studying to become an electronic engineering technician

Why did you decide to study in the USA?

Since I was a child, I have always wanted to major in electrical/electronic engineering, but I had a problem finding the right school and the right environment that fits the career that I was after. 

In 2019, during my final A-level studies in Spain, things were a little difficult for me in terms of applying to colleges and universities. I knew a couple of my mates who had applied to universities and got accepted with no problems. I had no idea about what I had to do next or what my next thoughts were after my A-levels. Of course, I knew what I wanted to do as a career, but I did not know what steps I needed to take to make that career dream come true. And that step was to find and apply to the right college that fits the career that I was after. So, two months before my final studies in Spain, my father talked to me about my education, and he recommended studying in the USA because they offer the best electrical/electronic engineering degrees.

Why did you choose this particular college or university? 

Although international students do not qualify for electrical courses at Chemeketa, I chose to study at Chemeketa Community College because it is a diverse community of students that accepts different people from different cultural backgrounds, who communicate and support each other with dignity. I believe that a successful student is he who has the freedom to happiness. Chemeketa gives students the right to freedom. There is always someone students can look up to, talk to, and seek the right help they need.

What do you like best about your program or university?

What I like best about Chemeketa Community College is how diverse it is, seeing that many people from different countries and different backgrounds give me leverage and enthusiasm to love and appreciate my heritage.

What do you miss most about home?

I miss driving around and having a good time at the movies. 

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

My biggest surprise about U.S. life is that people live to work because they believe that working hard as an American is the right way, but in Ghana, people work to live because it is the only way to survive. 

The educational background in America is more advantageous than in Ghana, or in some countries. Almost all public or community colleges in the U.S. have the right resources and services to support student’s education than it is in some countries. Everyone in America has an equal right to education, to work, and succeed.

... your biggest disappointment?

My biggest disappointment with U.S. life and education would be the restriction and right of international students to work on part-time jobs while in school. It is such a shame to spend a whole three months of summer vacation doing nothing or not working on part-time jobs. If the system could allow international students to work off-campus on summer vacations, it would be such a great help to support and balance credit expenses, both for dependent and independent international students.

How have you handled:

... language differences?

English is my second language, and I started learning it about eight years ago. I learned English by reading storybooks, immersing myself deeply into speaking English with friends, listening to country music, and some good hip-hop songs. Ever since I came up with this incredible idea of reading storybooks, I have always been more than capable of handling language differently. It has helped strengthen my ability to read and write, memory improvement, and the ability to learn new words and phrases, which helps me express myself even better on any occasion.

... finances?

This is a tough one. For the past few months, I have handled finances mostly well by spending less on groceries and removing unnecessary expenses. I have limited going on expensive adventures and spending less on gas. I do not have emergency funds, but I do review and understand my credit reports.

... adjusting to a different educational system?

Well, I have attended a couple of private international schools in and outside of Ghana, with almost everything that seems like the U.S. educational system. Because I had the opportunity to study in such an environment, I am easy to adapt to the U.S. education system.

What are your activities? 

In my free time, I like to read storybooks for pleasure, cook my favorite rice recipe, go on adventures, watch movies, and sleep. I do not have any clubs, but I would love to have one, especially to join a sporting club because sports have always been my number one goal-to-goal activity.

How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?

Extremely easy compared to other countries that I have visited. The language barrier or the ability to speak and understand with little to no problems also makes it quite easy for me to make friends here in the USA, I guess. I have lived independently in Spain for three years, and for someone like me who came straight from Ghana, I found making friends there harder than I ever imagined or I did in the USA. Well, I spoke little Spanish, and I always found myself struggling to converse or understand people about what they were saying, or what wanted to say. But my three years there, I enrolled in an English school, took a few Spanish classes, and within a month or two, I was back on some proper life making friends. So, living in the U.S. has been such an easy thing for me to approach people and make friends.

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 goals are to complete my degree work, do an optional practical training program, find a career job in an electronic engineering technician field and start building or living an independent life where I can work and travel. My U.S. education is to the highest extent relevant to my personal goals and the need of my country because I want to become an electrical/electronic engineer with the reason to help solve some of the electrical problems faced in my country. Having the opportunity to attain degree work in the U.S. will prepare me towards solving some of the country’s power crises, and it will also give me many opportunities in life, especially in a job application set or business matter.

What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?

Living and studying in the U.S. is always a great idea, but many are focused on partying rather than doing what they came to do in the U.S. And in the end, many walk away struggling to make ends meet. My advice to other students is that they should always know the reason they are in the U.S. They should not allow fun or summer parties and clubbing to push aside or stop their career goals or education. Always remember that Americans live to work because they believe working hard as an American is a right way. So, must you! Work hard and always seek help from your instructors or advisor whenever you need help. Do have fun but not to the highest extent that pushes aside your education. Remember, there is plenty of time to have great fun after your education. Stay blessed and stay out of trouble.

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Samuel Sam from Ghana is in his first year at Chemeketa Community College in Oregon where he’s studying to become an electronic engineering technician.

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