Mariya Semyonova from Kazakhstan: Pursuing a University Transfer Degree at Cascadia Community College

Mariya Semyonova from Kazakhstan: Pursuing a University Transfer Degree at Cascadia Community College


An interview with Mariya (Masha) Semyonova from Kazakhstan, who attends Cascadia College in Bothell, near Seattle, Washington.

Why did you decide to study in the America?

I’ve been to the U.S.A. as an exchange student in High School. I fell in love with the Northwest ever since and when I had a chance to go back and do some college here, I just went for it.

How did you choose your college?

Cascadia being ranked #2 in the U.S.A. was definitely a plus. My big brother was an international student at Cascadia years ago, and he loved it. And the location is really convenient. Cascadia campus is shared with University of Washington Bothell, directly next to a freeway exit. It takes less than an hour to get to downtown Seattle or to snow-capped mountains for skiing and hiking.

What do you like best?

I like the atmosphere here on campus: supportive staff helps work pretty much everything out, and the interaction with the professors is awesome. At Cascadia I get all the help I need. My professors know I exist and they talk to me.

What do you miss most about home?

My cats.

What was your biggest surprise?

Riding a bus was easier than I expected it to be, they’ve added more routes since I’ve last been here, and the bus pass is a pretty good buy for Cascadia students. All the technology we get at school to support our school work also exceeded my expectations. For example, every Cascadia student keeps track of course work, communication with professors, class projects and career goals on a personal web site called an ePortfolio.

…your biggest disappointment?

I was taken aback by the current state of economy, and knowing that it affects the economy worldwide, it’s fascinating to witness it here.

How did you handle: Language differences?

I’m familiar with slang and a few jokes, so I haven’t been as confused as I was during my first stay here in high school. Language differences affected some of my college work, when I got marked down for using a wrong word. I’ve a life-long-learner mentality, so I learned from it.


Finances are a little more of a challenge. Sometimes it’s hard to pace myself spending money, since I’m a social person and like to go out.

What are your activities?

I’m the current Secretary of Student Government, and I’m very involved with the International club. I’m a starting member of Alpha Sigma Pi, The National Society of Leadership and Success, and two other clubs — the Speak-easies and the Film Appreciation Society.

How does your U.S. education fit into your goals and the needs of your country?

Right now I’m working on my AIS degree, and afterwards study to be a Physician’s Assistant. Eventually I want to get a Master’s in Nursing, but that’s more of a long term goal. Good education is valued in Kazakhstan, and they’re currently working in accepting degrees from overseas as official ones.

What is your advice about U.S. education for other students?

It’s a unique opportunity which will benefit you as a student, a person, a leader, and a future specialist. You won’t believe how much fun you’ll have!

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