Maria Victoria Cortez Sanchez from Venezuela is a sophomore majoring in Industrial Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
My family and I moved to America in 2016 from Venezuela because they knew I would not be able to get a good education there.
How did you choose your intensive English program?
The moment I stepped on the campus to tour it, I knew I wanted to come here. Everyone was so nice, and I really liked the spirit of the school — it felt like home.
What do you like best about studying here?
I really like the classroom environment, the professors really care about you and want to see you succeed in their class.
What do you miss most about home?
I miss my family the most and the people and general. I also miss all of our traditions, especially the food.
How long have you been studying here? How has your English improved? How has this program helped you to handle future study at a U.S. university?
I will be going into my second year at the University of Tennessee this fall. My English has improved a lot due to speaking English more than Spanish. This program will ensure that I get the job of my dreams in the United States.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
That you can find people from any culture! You will be able to find your people. The education here is really good and it prepares you for post-grad life.
… your biggest disappointment?
My biggest disappointment was to see how uneducated Americans are about other countries. Most people didn't know about the existence of Venezuela.
How have you handled:
… language differences?
It was really hard at first because I barely spoke English, but with time it got better and I got used to it. I would watch and read everything in English to learn faster, and that really helped.
I did not struggle that much with finance because thankfully my school gets paid for. Working as an international ambassador has helped me a lot with my personal finances.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
I would say it was pretty easy. The system is really good, it does not take a lot to get used to it.
What are your activities?
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
It is really easy, especially if you are foreign, Americans really like meeting people from other countries.
What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My goals are to get my bachelor’s in industrial engineering and also my master’s. After that I would like to work as an Industrial Engineer either in the United States or in Europe. Getting a degree here in America would make it easy for me to find a job here or anywhere in the world.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering studying English in the USA?
I would tell them to do it because a degree from the United States has a lot of power, and it will let you get a job not only in your country but also around the world. I would also tell them that even though it looks scary, it is not, it's so easy to get used to it and make friends.
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