An interview with Susana Lopes, from Brazil, who received an ACP (Accelerated) Certificate in Marketing at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).
Why did you decide to enter a U.S. summer program?
I was trying to challenge myself to do something new, and I wanted to gather both experience and knowledge in a very efficient manner. My goal was to get fresh information from the best teachers that I could afford, and every day I go to class reinforces my belief that I am on the right track.
How did you choose your summer program?
The UCI program was within my budget and Irvine is an ideal place for international students. It is a friendly and safe community, that is easy to travel around. Orange County offers a wide variety of activities, from surfing on the beach to biking in the hills. One of the advantages that UCI offers is that it is part of the University of California system but is not located in a major city. The UCI facilities are extremely accessible and the staff is always willing to help you. Also something that caught my attention was the high reputation the university has in different fields.
What did you like best?
The thing I like best about studying in the U.S.A. is being surrounded by people from all over the globe. Everyone brings a unique perspective and we are able to understand our selves and respect each other. The friendships that I have made here will be cherished forever.
What did you miss most?
Family, but sometimes is good to be by yourself and they can always come to visit me. The time zone is more than 4 hours different, therefore is difficult to catch up in current events.
What was your biggest surprise?
My biggest surprises were the convenience, how everything is accessible, and the people were very direct to the point, which made me feel a little uncomfortable in the beginning. The variety of stuff here is so overwhelming that is easy to get lost.
...your biggest disappointment?
Rental car prices were still expensive for me, and public transportation is not a viable option.
How did you handle: ...Language differences?
You can always use mimics and ask them to slow down.
Plan for the worst case scenario, and have a back-up plan. Be gentle with your credit card, you will need it later. Look for deals, especially when dining out, buying clothes and electronics.
...Adjusting to a different educational system?
In my opinion, the major difference is the amount of time dedicated to homework.
How did your English improve?
It gave me confidence, where before I was shy, and was unwilling to speak English in public, now, I feel ready for a competitive business environment.
How relevant was your U.S. summer program to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
I strongly believe that the program added value to my career path, it allows me to expand my exposure to both domestic and international businesses, along with developing my English skills.
What is your advice to other students?
Prepare in advance for your program. Get used to doing everything online. Don’t hang out with people with the same native language as you. Put yourself in situations that force you to speak, write and read in English. Travel a lot, even alone. Try different foods and know the basic information about your country, some history, social and political efforts, and common problems.