Irene began her U.S. studies after finishing college and university in Indonesia. To improve her English for academic study, she attended the American Language Academy (ALA) in 1999 at University of Southern Colorado at Pueblo. Then, in the fall of 2000, she transferred to the Art Institute of Seattle in Washington State, from which she graduated with an Associate of Applied Arts (AAA) degree in Multimedia and Web Design in 2002. She went back home to Indonesia for several years and worked with students at the Study in the USA booth at major fairs throughout her country. Now, Study in the USA is lucky to have Irene working in our U.S. office, where she is putting her degree to work as a member of the graphic design team.
She is also our exclusive Indonesian Media Specialist.
More of Irene's story ...
Study in the USA: Where in Indonesia did you grow up?
Study in the USA: Why did you decide to attend a U.S. university?
Irene: After I finished high school in Indonesia, I continued my education, majoring Architecture in Tarumanagara University, Jakarta, Indonesia. (I had) prior graduated from the university. I was thinking about gaining my skills in computers. Because my English wasn't very good at that time, I thought it was better to get into a language school to work on my TOEFL. After I reached the requirement and I feel comfortable then I continued to Art Institute of Seattle.
Study in the USA: Can you tell us a bit about your semesters spent at the American Language Academy? And did you enjoy the cultural experiences?
Irene: It was great to sit down in a classroom with people from all over the world (Mexico, Dominican Republic, France, China, Japanese, and Korea). Although we learned English language, we still shared about our own culture too. The most cultural experiences I had (were) when I was in Language School.
Study in the USA: What was your first day of school like?
Irene: Nervous. But the instructors and classmates were very friendly.
Study in the USA: What was it like adjusting to a different educational system, academically and socially?
Irene: Here, instructors are more like friends, but we still respect them. That makes the learning process easy and exciting. When I was in language academy, we did a lot of study excursions to some places. One of my hobbies is traveling, so it gave me the opportunity to see some of the famous places in Colorado. On national holidays like Thanksgiving or Halloween, we did the turkey dinner and craft the pumpkins.
Study in the USA: Was it easy or difficult to make friends?
Irene: It was easy, everyone was very friendly.
Study in the USA: How did you handle finances?
Irene: The tuition was subsidized by my parents. I feel very fortunate and thankful to them.
Study in the USA: What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life?
Irene: In U.S. personal values are really important. People respect each other and are treated equally.
Study in the USA: What did you like best about the Multimedia and Web Design Program at Art Institute, Seattle?
Study in the USA: What did you miss about home?
Irene: I missed the food. My hometown food, it's called Padang Food. It's more spicy than the rest of Indonesian food. Now I would find the recipes online and try to make the similar food using some ingredients I found at the local market. The result is close but not the same.
Study in the USA: How relevant has your U.S. education been to your personal goals?
Irene: For international students, after we graduate we are allowed to have a 1 year OPT (Optional Practical Training). For me, it was very useful. It gave me the opportunity to practice what I had learned in school.
Study in the USA: What did you learn while studying in the U.S., and how has that changed your outlook on life?
Irene: Do what you love and you don't feel like it is work everyday.
Study in the USA: What is your advice to other students who are considering studying in the USA?
Irene: Find programs that really interest you, if you're not sure, make sure the university offers transfer programs.