Learning English: passion or necessity?
I am sure, sometimes, even you have thought about studying English in the U.S. This happened to me a lot of times and, each time, I wondered how this experience could be. Today I live in the U.S, but I am still curious about this experience, how can be like living in another country for a while, speaking a different language, and taking care of yourself, maybe for the first time.
It is very fascinating, isn’t it?
What ACE is
A couple of weeks ago I had the great opportunity to satisfy my, and probably also yours, curiosity. I met two students in the American Collegiate English (ACE) program at Grossmont Community College in San Diego, and they were so kind to answer my questions. Before giving space to the students’ voices, it is a good idea to briefly introduce what is ACE. The ACE program is an intensive English program for intermediate-level international students. This program allows international students to come to the U.S. for studying English and making an unforgettable experience. Now it is time to give space to my friends Mai and Zras Jr.
Meeting the lively Mai
Mai is a student from Japan. She is a very sweet and lively girl. We met in her classroom where she was very happy to answer my questions. Mai has been enrolled in ACE for about seven weeks, at Grossmont College. This is her first experience as an international student in the U.S. She finds the experience very nice and interesting, which allows her to meet people from all parts of the world.
"Living here forces me to speak English all the time, improving my level very fast,” Mai says. That is for her, also the big difference between studying English in her country and studying English here in the U.S. “When you have around people who speak your language, in some way, you are not stimulated to use another language, but here, where people around me are from all part of the world, the only chance to communicate is using the English.”
Mai tells me about the most exciting experience in the ACE program, which is to know about countries that she didn’t know about before. She could discover new countries and new cultures through her classmates’ stories. But, besides the beautiful personal experience, Mai talks about the educational experience. She says enthusiastically how her English has improved since she has been in the program. She could see improving her pronunciation “I didn’t know how to move my mouth before taking these classes,” she lovingly smiles. “and I also improving my writing.” She feels to recommend this experience to her friends in Japan, so they also can try this terrific personal and educational adventure.
The best part of the program in Mai’s experience
Mai talks about the ACE program in a fascinating way, and the thing that she will better remember about this experience is for sure the amazing relationship between the students. Given the projects that they need to do, the students need to spend a lot of time together, knowing each other, and getting friends. Mai is planning to enroll in Grossmont College for the first two years and then transfer to a four-year university, her major will be Biology. I wish Mai good luck in her life, even if I am sure that her spontaneous and overwhelming sympathy will bring her wherever she wants.
Meeting the determined Zras Jr.
The other student I had the pleasure to meet is Zras Jr. He is from Libya, and he has been in San Diego for six months and has been in the ACE program for almost seven weeks. Zras Jr. is excited about his experience in the ACE program, he wants to talk about how his writing is improving and how many tools for better writing he got during his classes. In his opinion, this is one of the big differences between studying English in his country and studying English in the U.S.
The program gives the students the tools to learn to write for academic purposes. “I never wrote that much in Arabic, and no one at school taught me the correct way to do it,” Zras Jr. states. Another difference that he noticed is in the use of technology. Zras says that in the U.S. “school is cool.” Like a guy of the modern era, he likes the way the school in the U.S. uses technology everywhere, also using a web-based learning management system like Canvas. In his country, they still use the old system like paper and notebooks.
Zras Jr. also remarks that studying English in the U.S. is much better. “I can practice English every day at school and home, given that I live with other roommates,” underlining the difference from his country where he can study English for only four hours per week at school. Zras Jr. is very thrilled when talks about his experience in the U.S., especially when he talks about taking care of himself for the first time. He smiles and says: “I cook my food, I do laundry…I live alone so, I have to do everything by myself,” leaving to intend that this experience is also making him grow as a person.
Zras Jr.’s opinion about taking a degree in the U.S.
Zras Jr. would like to recommend this experience in the ACE program to his friends, especially because of the opportunity that studying in the U.S. can give them. In Zras Jr.’s opinion, obtaining a degree in the U.S. is a great opportunity to get a job everywhere around the world. If on one hand, everything looks amazing and interesting, on the other hand, these guys are far from home, alone in a foreign land, and they need a solid support and someone to count on, who, in some way, can take care of them.
Zras Jr. found this support in Sandy. Sandy is the international student specialist, she helps students to apply to ACE, prepares them for visa interviews, and helps them to transfer to Grossmont College, but clearly, she also gives them the feeling they can always count on her. Zras Jr. is ready to start his adventure at Grossmont College in the fall semester and is thinking to transfer to UCSD or the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, majoring in Electrical Engineering. Well, I can say only good luck to Zras Jr., too. I am sure he will do everything he wants since he showed me great determination.
Something in common
As we can see, these guys are having different experiences in ACE. This is predictable since they have different personalities, they come from different countries, with different backgrounds, and they follow different dreams. Something after all to my eyes is the same for both, the greatest part of this adventure! They are enjoying this experience in any way, and they are growing as students and as persons. This is amazing, isn’t it?
A personal thank you to Mai and Zras Jr. for their time and their willingness to share with us their exciting experience in the ACE program in the U.S.
|Rossana Di Grande from Italy moved to San Diego four years ago with her family. She started studying towards a degree in Forensic Technology at Grossmont College in February 2022, and her dream is to become a blood patterns expert.|
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