Natalija Koreka, from Latvia, attended Foothill College in northern California. She earned her Associate of Arts degree in Economics from Foothill College and transferred to the University of Southern California to complete her bachelor’s degree.
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
It has a lot to offer: diversity, most up-to-date technology in classrooms, invaluable resources and, of course, prestigious education. I personally made my choice due to the following reasons: (1) I wanted to get the best education ever and what can be better than U.S. schools, which are widely known for the quality of their teaching and research? (2) I wanted to extend my network and be able to meet people from all over the world.
Why did you choose Foothill College?
My brother graduated from Foothill College and got a great job in Latvia. He’s set a great example for me. I was positive that my experience in the USA would give me an advantage over other applicants in the job market.
What did you like best?
Great education, experienced professors, amazing field trips. At Foothill and at University of Southern California (USC) my classes were not only challenging but also fun.
What do you miss most?
I am 26 [years old] and haven’t lived at home since I was 17, so it’s hard to tell what I still miss about home. U.S. has almost anything you can wish for.
Do you miss a certain food from your home country?
There are plenty of restaurants and grocery stores where you can find almost anything from your home country. If not, there is always the Internet. Nevertheless, I do have to admit your taste buds will eventually tune into the new taste.
Are you desperate for snow?
Hop in the car, drive three hours and you are skiing in the mountains.
Do you miss friends and family?
Skype and other telephone services have made life so much easier. However, I guess sometimes Skype isn’t enough … I still miss my parents’ hugs.
What are your activities?
I joined International Students Club and later became its president. Through the club I met a lot of friends. Foothill International Programs also organized a lot of amazing opportunities to build your network and leadership profile, from fun field trips, ice-skating, dinners, etc. to International Night, which is the largest event on the Foothill campus. It highlights and celebrates student diversity. It also gives students a chance to try leadership and organization by creating and building an event and learning to collaborate with multicultural and multifunctional teams.
I was also a captain of the Foothill College tennis team. Being part of a tennis team gave me an opportunity to travel a lot.
I was also lucky to get an opportunity to develop my professional skills by getting a job in the International Programs office. Working with Viktoria Kolesnikova, Director of International Marketing, I learned how to create and manage projects related to the international marketing and the recruitment strategy of a large college district.
How easy or difficult was making friends?
Super easy. There are so many people from all over the world who are building a new social life completely from scratch. A lot of students work on projects together in classes, join different clubs, organizations, and friendships just tend to happen more organically in these kinds of settings.
How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
I transferred from Foothill College to the University of Southern California (USC). I graduated USC in 2009 and started working at Amgen, the biggest biotech company in the world. I started at Amgen supporting Ops Finance and got promoted already twice. If it weren’t for Foothill I would have never gotten to a top 10 undergraduate business school. If it weren’t for USC I would have never gotten my job at Amgen.
What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?
Definitely do it! You will have a great time in the U.S. and those memories will last a lifetime! Besides getting a great education, meeting amazing people and getting a great experience, you will learn so much about yourself.