An interview with Ioannis Tsangaris, from Cyprus, studying Information Technology and Information Management Systems at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, with a minor in Fine Arts.
Why did you decide to study in America?
I always wanted to travel to the U.S. and experience a different culture than my own. Due to the fact that the U.S. is considered a “melting pot”, I thought that it would be the ideal place to study and would give me the opportunity to meet people from all around the world. One other reason that drew me to the U.S. was that Fairleigh Dickinson University is close to New York City which is considered one of the biggest and most diverse cities in the world.
Why did you choose this particular university?
Cypriot friends of mine who graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University said that the school was very good and offered optimal in-class and out-of-class educational experiences. The location of the school is one of its greatest assets, as it’s located very close to New York City but in a safe and suburban area that doesn’t have all the hustle and bustle of a large metropolis. In addition, FDU has a strong reputation in my major (IT) as well as ABET accreditation.
What do you like best?
One of the things that I like about FDU is the diverse student body which stretches from Asia to South America and everywhere in between. I have never met so many different people from so many different places in the world! Another thing that I like about FDU is that students are given are the opportunity to do a minor, even one that is totally unrelated to their major, while completing their undergraduate studies. This gives FDU students a well-rounded education and allows them to tap into other fields in which they are interested.
What do you miss most?
I miss my family and some good old fashioned home cooked meals.
What was your biggest surprise?
I was pleasantly surprised that everyone is so friendly. People here are eager to greet you with a big smile and are always willing to help. The education system is quite different from the one we have in Cyprus. Students are given more opportunities to show the knowledge they have obtained through various projects and presentations as opposed to being graded only on the results of a final exam.
... your biggest disappointment?
I would say that it would be the fact that many American students have to take loans to study. I am a firm believer that education should be provided by the government of that country.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
Due to the fact that there are so many people from so many countries it was sometimes hard to understand different accents. But with time, practice and repetition, I managed to adjust.
Working as a Resident Assistant and as a student worker, I have managed to balance my finances and thus make some extra pocket money to spend in my leisure time.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
It was a bit difficult to adjust to the U.S. educational system at first but I have become accustomed to it and I really like it. There are so many opportunities given to students to show what they have learned through different mediums instead of just being graded on one examination.
What are your activities?
I am currently a Resident Assistant for Residence Life, a student worker in the International Admissions Office, Vice President and Assistant to the Coach for the FDU Rugby Club, an active member of International Students Association and an International Student Ambassador.
How easy or difficult is making friends?
Making friends is easy but maintaining friendships is the tricky part, I would say. Undergraduate students have very busy schedules — especially if you’re involved in extra-curricular activities or have a job. With everyone having such different and busy schedules, you can find yourself drifting away from your friends. But if you make the effort, you will learn to manage your time properly and allocate your time on various things evenly so that you will have time for yourself and your friends.
What are your career goals? How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My goal is to start my own IT firm in the future. Studying IT and having done an internship in my field has given me a good idea of what is needed to achieve my goals. The field of Information Technology is a rapidly expanding field which is in demand all over the world. My education at FDU and the various internships which I have done through the university have given me the right tools and knowledge to succeed in my career.
What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?
Study all your options and try to see yourself in 10 years time doing the thing you love. If the school you have chosen offers it, then go for it. When you are in college be as active as you can be since the lessons learned, both inside and outside the classroom, are very valuable and something that you will carry with you the rest of your life.