An interview with Francesca Tanmizi, from Indonesia, a sophomore at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, majoring in Sociology & Business Administration.
Why did you decide to study in the America?
I wanted to try out a different education system and felt that the education system in America allows me to explore many different interests.
How did you choose your university?
My parents wanted a school that has a safe, nurturing environment. I love LMU's campus – it has a small, suburban town feel, but it's located right in Los Angeles, where you never run out of things to do.
What do you like best?
Definitely the professors. I was surprised that most of the professors sincerely want to help me. They don't act like I'm bothering them when I drop by during their office hours.
What do you miss most?
Indonesian chilli! America doesn't have enough spicy food.
What was your biggest surprise?
The informal way of the professors – they act like we are peers! I'm used to bowing to teachers so it was a huge shock when one of my professors genially told me, "Call me Eric!" I still can't call him by his first name, and he respects that.
... your biggest disappointment?
Meeting people who assume that America is the only civilized country in the world. Others I've met are very open, however; both extremes are represented. You find a wide range of reactions in the USA; that is what I love about it!
How have you handled: ... finances?
My family had prepared for me to come to the USA to study well in advance, so I was ready financially, but I found the tax and banking system confusing! With a lot of help from my friends, I managed to develop an understanding of how things work here.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
I had a relatively easy time adjusting. I'm still having problems trying to master the art of writing essays American style since it's completely different from the way I was taught to write my essays.
What are your activities?
I'm Secretary of the Asian Pacific Student Association and Co-President for the next year. I'm also a staff writer in the school paper and a member of the Gay Straight Alliance and the Gamelan Orchestra. Last summer, I did a study abroad in Florence, Italy.
How easy or difficult is making friends?
It was pretty easy. I didn't know many Indonesians in my school so I had to force myself to make other friends. Luckily, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. A lot of Americans are really friendly and they're genuinely interested in other cultures.
How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My education in the USA helped me discover new interests since my university strongly encourages taking courses outside your major. I found out that I'm actually really fascinated by theology, history, communication studies, music, art history, mathematics, economics and psychology. I want a career in Public Relations and I think that having a broad education can help with whatever situation I have to deal with in my future career.
What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?
Make friends with people from different nationalities and backgrounds, live in a dorm to get to know more people and be involved in student clubs and organizations. Don't be afraid to take on leadership positions! Know what your beliefs are, and that it is OK to stick to them, but also be open to other ways of thinking.