An interview with Thanyaluck Keawkingkeo, who prepares for a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual Communication Design) at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she studied at the Tutorium in Intensive English.
Why did you decide to study in the America?
Because I trust a quality of American educational system.
How did you choose your intensive English program?
My mother, who also graduated from UIC, trusted in reputation of university. My cousin is also studying at UIC, so I could share an apartment with him.
What do you like best?
I like the curriculum. I appreciate all activities and homework which TIE provides students to improve English skill.
What do you miss most?
Although I usually cook Thai food every week, I still miss some food that I cannot find an ingredient here.
How has your English improved?
My English is gradually improved. In class, teachers usually encourage me to speak and share my opinion to others. I have more confidence to talk in English.
What was your biggest surprise?
American is very independent. I rarely see them walk or sit in a big group of people. In contrast, in Thailand, our decision usually depend on others. In classroom, American teachers always respect student opinions.
How have you handled:
Fortunately, I have cousins here, so they usually help me whenever I need them. Cooking is also the best way for International student like me. I barely eat outside, so I can save a lot of money. Everything here is very expensive, even a bottle of water, so I usually think before I buy.
...Adjusting to a different educational system?
It is not a big problem for me. I consider it like a challenge. I will have a great experience if I can overcome this situation.
What are your activities?
I like spending time with my friends. We have a party, shopping and eating outside. During a semester, I sometimes join a "Field Trip"providing by my school. We visit The Art Institute of Chicago; Kingston Mines Blues Club; take an Architectural boat tour; attend Chicago Bulls, White Sox or Cubs games; and Millennium Park for ice skating in the winter and concerts in the summer. We go out in the community as part of our lessons whenever we can. For example, when we had a unit on the stock market we visited the Chicago Board of Trade.
How easy or difficult is making friends?
In the first time, it was difficult for me because my classmates, they were not only unfamiliar people, but also spoke in different languages. However, the activities in class helped. Consequently, I was confident to talk with others and could make a lot of friends.
How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
American educational system is the best. I am not sure about my future career yet, but being able to use English fluently as well as holding a degree from U.S.A. are very significant in my country.
What is your advice to other students?
In my opinion, studying in country using English as a main language is the best choice to improve English skill.