Carlos Velásquez Ortiz from Venezuela is improving his English skills at UT’s English Language Program (ELP).
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I wanted to improve my English and the best way to do it is through immersion.
How did you choose your intensive English program, and what attracted you to your particular school?
I liked the excellent reputation that the University of Texas at Austin has compared to other universities. It’s ranked first in the state of Texas. In addition, the program meets all my expectations to improve my English. The program also offers tutoring, “Talk Time” for speaking practice, cultural exchange, tours by the city, etc.
What do you like best about studying here?
I am pleased with the excellent quality and professionalism of the teachers as well as the interculturality and the opportunity to meet people from many countries.
What do you miss most about home?
I miss the beaches and the climate most. It is always warm, but not too hot.
How long have you been studying here? How has your English improved?
I have been studying here for seven months, and I am going to continue studying. I feel that my level of English has improved a lot compared to when I had just arrived, and I feel satisfied and comfortable with the level that I have achieved.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
I like that people concentrate and focus on reaching their goals, and I was surprised by the methodologies that the teachers use to make the classes more entertaining. They use technology and give examples from everyday life, so we can understand much faster and more efficiently.
... your biggest disappointment?
The Latino culture is more focused on contact with others, like hugs and affection. Americans don’t seem to be as physically affectionate when greeting each other.
How have you handled:
.... language differences?
At first, I was quite confused and overwhelmed, but then I gave myself the chance to learn and laugh at my mistakes. I kept trying until they could understand me.
I came with my savings and with my income from my work in Peru, but I had the great opportunity to obtain a half scholarship to continue my studies in the summer, which helped me a lot. In addition, working part-time at the university has given me the opportunity to continue improving my English. I continue to compete for scholarships with the desire to be awarded with another one.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
I made an effort to adapt to the schedule and to find the classrooms, but then it was very good for me to be able to adapt because I went back to studying like when I studied engineering in Venezuela.
What are your activities?
I participate in almost all the activities that the university created for us — Talk Time, trips around the city, games, and work within the university and learning new skills such as barista, cooking, preparation, customer service, etc.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
I think it was easy for me to make friends since I like to talk and help anyone who wants to receive my help. Also, I like getting to know other cultures.
What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
I want to continue improving my English because it is a skill that could allow me to obtain better job opportunities, and I would like to earn a Master’s degree in petroleum or mechanical engineering, which would allow me to further improve my professional career.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering studying English in the USA?
Never give up on pursuing your dreams. When you want something with all your heart, you have to do it. When faced with challenges, look for opportunities; and in moments of weakness follow the strengths that make you achieve your dreams. Studying in the United States is the best opportunity I have had in my life, and doing it at the University of Texas at Austin was the best decision.
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