Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I feel like studying in the USA offers many opportunities, not only academically but also for building character skill (like leadership, global networking, and many more). With that, I can experience and learn more from others since the people studying here are more culturally diverse than where I’m from.
Why did you choose TCC?
Firstly, TCC best fitted me because it is located in Tacoma, a mid-sized city. It’s neither in a large city that is fast-paced, nor is it in a completely rural area. I did try to avoid colleges in large cities since it could be overwhelming and hard to adjust, but also not in a small city where I’m not familiar with the ambience. This is definitely something to look for before applying to the college or university. Secondly, the population of Indonesians is not very large in Tacoma. Personally, this will force me (in a good way) to socialize with other people from various background. Researching the population at the desired place first would be a wise thing to do. Lastly and most importantly, TCC is financially friendly.
What do you like best about your college?
TCC has many amazing aspects as an outstanding college, one of them is offering programs at a fairly more affordable cost than most 2-year colleges. However, what I think TCC has really perfected is having amazing resources to achieve equity, diversity, and inclusion for the diverse students, instructors, staffs, and employees. There’s always exciting events, speakers, or simply just surveys (not mandatory) that’s happening revolving around that topic to make sure everyone can educate themselves better and feel that they are heard and represented.
What do you miss most about home?
I think this answer is a no surprise to fellow Indonesians, but I miss Indo food the most. It’s just so flavorful and full of spice unlike most American food that I deem plain.
What was your biggest disappointment?
I wouldn’t say my biggest disappointment, but I sure am culture shocked at how students talk and interact with teachers as if they were their peers. In some way this is a good thing because students can comfortably ask questions in an informal way, but sometimes I would notice some of lack of respect. Of course we shouldn’t merely respect someone just because they are older, but we do have to practice respect to everyone regardless of their identity.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
Being scared to speak in a second language is totally normal. However, what I realized after being here for quite some time is that people who are locally don’t really mind if we can’t speak the language flawlessly. They don’t expect us to pronounce or say it grammatically correct. Being confident to actually letting the words out is the first step and actually the most important one. Afraid to make mistake stops us from learning. There’s no punishment after we do make mistakes, people will forget and move on and we’ll learn and grow.
I like to set a weekly budget for several things, such as rent, tuition, food, shopping, etc. After each spending I would write it down in my journal just to keep track of it and to make sure I’m not spending beyond the budget I set at the start of the week. Setting a budget and tracking it is important for me to make sure I’m not being impulsive. Setting it weekly instead of monthly or yearly has also helped me to see if any of my budget need revising. I also try to not convert US Dollar to my currency that often to reduce guilt.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
I much prefer the U.S. educational quarter system (3 month/10 weeks studying term) rather than the semester system (6 month/15 weeks studying term), so not much adjusting was done. The quarter system makes me feel like I get a lot of things done since it’s quicker, hence reducing the boredom the semester system could give me. However, the downside is that it might feel overwhelming at some point (like around mid-term) because how packed it is as opposed to the semester system. So, studying the material/doing the assignments in advance would be more beneficial to make most out of the studying terms.
I also much prefer choosing our own classes rather than being assigned to it. With this, we can personally choose classes that aligns with our future goals or simply just because we like the subject.
What are your activities?
Before quarantine hit, I had a lot of activities. I worked as a mentor in the International Office Department and so I was fortunate enough to work and travel with short-term programs and transfer students. I would also consider myself fairly active in the volleyball club. However with the pandemic, I now facilitate only some activities like orientation and International Happy Hour (a platform for international students to gather, play games and have fun conversation monthly). The only thing that didn’t change is that I’m still in the homestay program with my wonderful host mom.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
I would say it depends on the person’s personality, but for me I don’t think it’s difficult. People here are more individualistic so it would seem at first that they aren’t sociable, when in fact they just prioritize things differently from someone who is from a collectivist country. People here love to make small talks and are open to different opinions. I don’t think someone with an open-mind, and someone that can sound their opinions respectfully, would have trouble making friends in the USA.
What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
As for career goals, I don’t have anything specific in mind but I do know that I want to work somewhere in the psychology field. U.S. education is highly relevant to my personal goals as a lot of psychology literature is published in the U.S. first. Studying in my home country, I would not get the earlier access of the newest study available (since it would take some time for it to be translated and approved), which is pretty crucial in the psychology field since we have to work with the best logic and reason as current as possible. The studies done here are also mostly unaffected by the dominant religion and hierarchical status of the society, which my country still has trouble dissociating the two. I believe my studies here can bring a new, although different perspective that would be beneficial from the conventional approach done in my country.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?
I would advise them to do a lot of research on all the possible U.S. education institutions that they would like to attend. Examining the pros & cons thoroughly by researching them with parents, guardians, or friends already studying in the U.S./abroad. It’s also important to use different resources (like StudyUSA.com) or other educational partners and agents. Asking for questions or help is not a sign of weakness! It’s rather a sign of strength for us to acknowledge that we don’t know about that matter, and from there we are open to all the related answers and information.