Summer travel is popular among U.S. university students while on break from classes. It is a challenge for people from other regions to fathom the vastness of the United States—driving across the USA from New York to Seattle or L.A. takes days! The best part of travel in the U.S. is that each region of the country has its own geography, flavor and culture, much like the different countries of the E.U. or South America. This diversity makes it difficult to make generalities. Take advantage of your free time—travel and discover the USA!
You Can Travel by Air, Bus, Train or Car.
Going by Air
Air travel is the most convenient and time-effective way to travel within the United States. Most airlines offer discount fares for travel between major cities and from coast to coast (New York to Los Angeles). Special student fares are also available. Be sure to shop around for the best prices. Look for web promotions and special offers.
Recommended air travel sites: expedia.com, travelocity.com, lowestfare.com, orbitz.com, or kayak.com. Kayak is especially effective because it searches across multiple airlines sites. These websites can help save money on airfare. Pay attention to how many stops are in the flight plan. Sometimes less expensive tickets will have multiple stops, making the trip longer.
For students and educational visitors (or anyone under the age of 25), a good travel-booking source is STA. It is the world’s leading travel organization for students and young travellers. You may also consult a travel agent to help you find the most convenient fare for you. Be aware that you will usually pay a $5 to $20 booking fee if you book your ticket over the phone with a travel agent, while booking online is free.
Going By Bus
The large commercial bus lines, such as Greyhound and Gray Lines, have inexpensive, long-distance rates for travelers. Often, students have more time than money, so bus travel can be the way to go. Plus, you can enjoy the scenic route and experience more of the local flair than if you were traveling by plane.
For those traveling from abroad, Greyhound also offers the option of an International Ameripass. It is good for up to 60 consecutive days of travel, and provides unlimited travel in most parts of the U.S. Purchase an Ameripass at any U.S. Greyhound terminal. For the international Ameripass you must buy your ticket 21 days prior to your arrival in the USA, and it is available online at greyhound.com or at participating travel agents abroad.
Going by Train
Railway travel is also a great way to see this large country. It is generally more expensive —especially compared to train travel in the E.U.—than travel by bus, but it can be more comfortable.
Amtrak, the largest passenger train service in the United States, offers 15 or 30 days of unlimited rail travel with either their USA Pass or North America Pass. You may buy these passes via travel agents worldwide or at any Amtrak-staffed station.
Going by Car
Americans have had a long-time “love affair” with the automobile. The sense of freedom that comes with just “hitting the road” is something that most Americans would not want to live without.
If you plan to drive in the USA, make sure to come prepared; you will need an international driver’s license, insurance, and knowledge of road signs. For assistance with maps and directions, visit the American Automobile Association.
If you do buy a car in the U.S. you might want to join AAA (commonly referred to as “triple A”). It provides excellent benefits such as roadside service and customized trip planners with door-to-door directions for members. Also consult the Department of Motor Vehicles, dmv.org, for information about driver’s licenses, vehicle registration, insurance, and more.
You Can Stay in Hostels, Hotels, and Rentals (i.e. Airbnb) or Go Camping!
Staying in Hostels
Hostel accommodations are inexpensive, clean, friendly, and secure. The best source for locating hostels in the USA is through the American Youth Hostels. You can also procure membership and information about U.S. hostels at the International Youth Hosteling Foundation. You’ll also find links and information on IYHF/AYH services and summer trips.
Campsites are available at private camping grounds or at state and national parks. Many public campgrounds are available on a first-come-first-serve basis, but some require reservations. You will usually pay a small fee and display a tag at your campsite. The easiest way to be certain of campground availability is to contact the park directly, usually the park ranger.
On the U.S. National Parks website or State Park websites, find national or state parks around the country and obtain specific information on seasonal events, regulations and camping. For details on other camping options, check some of the links located at camping-usa.com. Camping is a fun way to explore the beautiful parks and landscapes of the USA, and costs almost nothing!
1. Prepare before you leave.
A smooth arrival can set the tone for a successful experience. Know what to expect from the first day you plan to arrive in the U.S.A. Here are a few things you should prepare for before you arrive:
Ask the school you are planning to attend what services they provide and how they can assist you.
2. Attend orientation.
One of the best ways to get off to a good start is by attending orientation. Most orientation programs include advising and registration, a campus tour, opportunities to meet staff, and the chance to make friends before classes start. For example, at Green River College, we offer international students a comprehensive, one-week orientation including a free overnight camp and a trip to Seattle.
3. Develop an educational plan.
An educational plan is like a roadmap to your future. It should include your long-term goals as well as the steps you need to take to achieve your goals. It should be written in pencil not stone because your plan is something that you’ll want to change, revise and update as you go along. Before you arrive, you should have a rough draft plan that includes what you plan to study, where you might want to transfer to, and what you plan to do after graduation.
4. Understand the U.S. education system.
The United States offers a large selection of educational options. The more familiar you are with the various institutions and programs the better you will be able to find options that match your interests, background, and financial ability.
5. Use your advisor.
International Student Advisors are available to help you with many different aspects of your education. They can help you understand the system, prepare your academic plan, register for classes, choose a major or even help you with culture shock or personal issues. Get to know your advisors. The better that they know you, the better they can help you! Services vary at different colleges.
6. Practice your English.
Take full advantage of being in an English speaking country and practice your English whenever and wherever you can. If you need to improve your English, enroll in an Intensive English program. Regardless of your level of English, try to use English whenever you have an opportunity—with your host family, in class, at the cafeteria, and at the grocery store. If you have friends who speak your same native language, encourage them to speak English when you get together.
7. Participate in class.
Here in the USA, teachers expect students to participate in class. Often your participation is factored into your final grade. This may be very different from the style of instruction you are used to. Don’t be shy. There are no right or wrong answers. Raise your hand and share your comments and opinions.
8. Experience the culture.
Of course, your number one priority should be your studies, but the opportunity to experience another culture firsthand plays a significant role in your overall study abroad experience. So, when your homework is done, be a tourist. On the weekends and during scheduled vacations get out and explore! As much as your budget can afford, see the sites both within your local area and around the USA.
9. Get involved.
Your happiness and ability to adjust to the new culture will depend to a large extent on your ability to get involved. Whatever you got involved with at home, do it here. Or try something new. Whether you want to play sports, participate in a club, or be a leader in student government, get involved early and often. Make friends and develop your own support network.
With so much to see and do and with parents far away, it is often easy to become undisciplined with your study habits. Don’t! Good study habits are a key to student success. Schedule your study time and stick with it. Let your friends know what your study schedule is and when you are available to get together or talk on the phone.
Most importantly, have fun! Take risks, make mistakes and then laugh at yourself later! Studying overseas can be a wonderfully memorable experience. Enjoy every moment and it is certain to change your life!
by Robert Woods
At the forefront of technology, the USA is the leader in educating fashion designers and business leaders in this exciting industry. Here you can learn it all, from adapting a 16th century gown for a 21st century film, to computerized stitching techniques, to promoting a new line of apparel.
While Paris may be the capital of the couture market, the USA is the center of the ready-to-wear market and New York City is the fashion capital of the world. All the resources are here: the stores, the top designers, textile firms, fashion magazines and more! All major designers—whether they come from France, Italy, Japan or Spain—have a presence in New York.
The USA is a country that embraces change, and fashion is ever changing. For a fashion student, it doesn’t get any better.
Streets, not Textbooks
Fashion is something that you learn. You are not born with good taste. At Berkeley College, we do not rely solely on textbooks. Textbooks become outdated quickly, but fashion changes every season. When we discuss window design - visual merchandising - we just walk down the street and look at the windows in Saks Fifth Avenue or Macy's.
What should you look for when choosing a fashion marketing and management program?
1. Is the program designed with significant input from industry insiders?
2. Does the program offer business courses as well as fashion courses? It is important to remember that fashion is a big business and that students must be able to understand the business world too. At Berkeley, we emphasize Fashion Marketing and Management, as well as design. This prepares the student to "hit the ground running" in the fashion industry.
3. Here are some of the technical courses that students should look for in a program:
• Product Lifecycle Planning – What are the stages a product goes through – from concept and development, to marketing and sales?
• Advanced Textiles – What types of innovations are impacting the development of fabrics and their various uses in garments?
• Global Sources - Where do buttons come from? What country produces the best silk?
• Technology courses - A great deal of fashion is on the Internet. It's not just in stores any more.
• CAD - Computer Aided Design programs.
• JDA – Supply Chain Management software to sort and allocate store merchandise for the retail industry.
4. Most importantly, does the program offer an internship? Work experience is essential to your fashion career.
Where Does It Lead?
Most students ask, “What kind of job will this type of program prepare me for?” When you consider fashion as a business and are not just dealing with design, you become more flexible and open to a number of positions. There are too many relevant careers to list, but here are a few that will be available to you:
• Merchandising positions in buying offices (buying offices usually purchase for a variety of stores).
• Product Development Specialist (dealing with the birth of the product all the way to the consumer).
• Executive trainee positions with fashion retailers.
What it takes
What qualities do students need to be successful in the fashion industry? Creativity, ambition, flexibility and knowledge.
The USA, with its wonderful distinctive mix of people from all over the world, is the true destination of people who have a passion for fashion. This adds an exciting dimension to all of our programs, but none more than Fashion, where cultural diversity can give rise to unique perspectives on fashion trends and the future of the industry.
Robert Woods is a faculty member in the Fashion Department at Berkeley College's Campus in New York City
By Stacey Leonard
Each year, thousands of U.S. families open their homes and hearts to student visitors from all over the world. In a homestay, students can observe, learn and experience a new lifestyle and culture, while practicing English skills in a home environment.
Successful homestay experiences can help to ease homesickness. Often students feel that they have found a second family who loves and cares for them. This experience can also help students make a smooth transition into an American university or enable them to reach a future career goal.
DAILY LIVING EXPERIENCE
Hosts involve their student guests in day-to-day family activities and also include them in social gatherings such as summertime barbecues, holiday celebrations, or trips to local attractions.
Homestay hosts will reflect the diversity of the region in which they live. They may be single parents, retired couples, widows, or families with young children. They will come from different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. What they will have in common is a desire to share their homes and their time with international students.
Usually, international visitors enjoy staying with hosts who have family members of similar ages or with similar interests. The homestay coordinator will consider a student’s needs, interests and requests before matching the student with a host.
Colleges and homestay organizations can arrange short-term, semester or year-long stays.
ADJUSTING TO THE HOUSEHOLD
Living in a homestay will always require an adjustment period. There may be simple house rules or guidelines about Internet usage, laundry, television viewing, meal times, cleanliness, and money matters.
Universities that offer homestays programs set certain standards for hosts. For example, at the University of Delaware, all hosts living more than 1 mile from campus must provide students with transportation to and from campus every weekday. Hosts must also provide each student with a private, furnished room and access to a shared or private bathroom.
The homestay coordinators carefully screen host applicants to make sure they have a passion for hospitality and an interest in other cultures. Coordinators will also interview and visit applicants to determine the suitability of the living space and meet the family members. Regular meetings, phone calls, and emails keep the hosts up to date in order to maintain high standards of operation within the homestays.
Unfortunately, not all homestay matches are perfect. If problems that cannot be resolved arise, the homestay coordinator will work closely with the student to ensure that the next homestay will be a better match.
BENEFITTING FROM YOUR HOMESTAY
If you choose to live in a homestay, your hosts will be interested in your country, family, and traditions. Be sure to bring photographs of your town, school, friends and family. If you wish, you may also bring small gifts that are typical of your country.
Homestays provide students with a well-rounded education and great social skills. These attributes will put you on the top of the list for employment when you return to your home country! If you are willing to learn and have an attitude of openness and flexibility, you will have one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences living in the USA.
Each year, tens of thousands of students come to the USA to learn English for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you haven’t considered an English language program and think your English skills are just fine. But if English is not your first language, think seriously about an English language program, especially an intensive program.
Improving your English language skills will give you a higher TOEFL or IELTS score, which means that you will have even more universities to choose from.
Mastering English will create a strong foundation for your university education. In an U.S. university classroom, you will be expected to participate in class discussions, share your opinion, debate and explain your reasoning, give class presentations and work in groups with your classmates. Class participation will be one of the factors that determine your overall grade for the course.
Types of English Language Programs College and University Programs
Many U.S. colleges and universities offer full-time intensive English programs. An intensive English program must meet a minimum of 18 hours per week for students to qualify for a student visa. Most intensive programs provide 20-25 hours per week of classroom instruction. Students usually enter these programs at the beginning of the academic semester (term or quarter).
Usually, intensive English programs are not part of the college or university’s academic degree programs; therefore you might not receive academic credit. Students enrolled in ESL institutes are not necessarily admitted to that college or university. Find out if the university or college offers conditional admission and the requirements; and keep in mind that public colleges, universities and community colleges often cost less than private universities and colleges.
Proprietary English Language Programs
Some private English language schools also prepare students to enter U.S. colleges and universities, and many are actually located on or near a college or university campus.
Finding the Right Program for You
It is important to do your research before choosing a school. Visit StudyUSA.com to read about individual schools; some of the descriptions are in several languages and you can contact the schools directly. Go to your local educational advising center for resources to help you identify schools that interest you.
You are embarking on an exciting and rewarding adventure!
Jennifer Privette is the editor and assistant publisher of Study in the USA.
How is Your English?
Simple Questions to Ask Yourself…
• Can you understand English when watching TV, movies or listening to songs but have problems trying to understand native speakers?
• Do you feel nervous about speaking English in groups because of your pronunciation and accent?
• Is your vocabulary is too basic to allow you to express all the ideas you want to present or discuss?
• Have you prepared your TOEFL score but need experience expressing yourself in a U.S.-style classroom setting?
• Can you read sophisticated articles and texts but still write in a basic way?
Martha Hall Ed.M., Director of The New England School of English (NESE) located in Cambridge, Massachusetts
How Should I Choose a Program?
1. Think about what kind of program you want to attend — a serious academic program or a short-term one?
2. How much money can you spend on tuition, room, meals, activities, books, etc.?
3. What’s the best location for you — a large city, small town, suburb, or a particular part of the country?
4. Are the teachers professionally trained and experienced language instructors?
5. What is the average class size?
6. What living accommodations does the program provide? Does the program make all housing arrangements, or will they help you find housing?
7. What services will the school provide: international student advisors, assistance with admissions, orientation, healthcare, counseling?
8. What extracurricular activities are there?
9. Is it a large or small school?
10. Does the school permit advanced-level students to take classes at the university or a nearby college?
11. Is the school accredited?
HOMETOWN: BEIJING, CHINA
THIRD YEAR STUDENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN
MAJOR: GLOBAL STUDIES
Why did you come to the U.S.?
I didn’t like the examination-oriented education of the general high school in China. I wanted a fresh start and a new environment to study, so after discussing my future with my parents, I switched to an international high school to prepare for studying abroad.
How did you choose UIUC?
I chose UIUC because of its computer science program. I was always interested in computer games, and I wish to start a game-development company. So I was trying to get into a school with a great somputer science program.
Close to 6,000 students from China study at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
How did you choose your major?
I came as a freshmen with an undeclared major. At first, I tried to declare my major as computer science, but I didn’t do well at chemistry, which is one of the required courses. … Then I found my interest in Global Studies. The curriculum of this program looks logical to me. We have to choose a country to start, and we can pick which aspect of that country we want to learn about. Then we have to learn the language and study abroad in the country for a semester. We also have to take academic courses about culture studies.
Which country are you studying?
I chose Japan, because I’m very interested in Japanese culture and I have learned basic Japanese since I was a child. I will stay there for the next semester to study their culture and language.
Which is your favorite spot at UIUC?
I actually like the Chinese restaurant near my campus. I like the food there so much that I asked the owners if they needed any help and they offered me a part-time job. I come from Beijing, the northern part of China, and the owners of this restaurant also come from northern China. Therefore, I feel like being home again every time I go there.
When he wants a break from American food, Jiaao Xue heads to a Chinese restaurant near campus.
Which other parts of the country have you visited?
I have been to New York for a holiday, but I found living in New York is too expensive to me. I also traveled to Kentucky, New Jersey, Chicago and Indianapolis.
What do you like the most about the U.S.?
I like that I can arrange my own time any way I want, but the freedom also overwhelmed me in the beginning. Back in high school, I didn’t need to plan my days, because it’s all about going to classes, doing homework and taking exams. But as an undergraduate student, I had to learn how to plan my time well. Suddenly, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do because I didn’t know anything about time management. After a while, I learned how to make plans and to exert self-discipline with regard to time.
My school (health) insurance plan does not cover dental care. I can understand that the school does not have the responsibility to cover all the costs for students, but dental bills can add a lot of burden. I had to bear my toothache and wait to go back to China during the break.
How do you feel about the security on campus?
I lived in the school dorm my freshman year because it is mandatory. When I lived on campus, I saw the police patrol when I studied late at night or early in the morning, so I felt very safe. After I moved out, I still felt safe because I have never seen any violence or attacks near my apartment. I am often told to stay alert of strangers and dangerous neighborhoods, but I believe that not all people are bad.
There were some tragedies that happened near campus, like the disappearance of (visiting scholar) Yingying Zhang last year and a shooting at a local bar in 2016. When I was helping to search for Yingying Zhang, I went to some unfamiliar neighborhoods to spread posters and photos. I was afraid that those neighborhoods might be dangerous. However, a lot of people gathered to read the posters and asked me for extras to bring home. A lot of them said they would keep an eye on this. I was very moved by them, so I think we could misjudge strangers sometimes.
What’s your view on the current political environment in the U.S.?
I don’t worry too much about the politics, because my school life isn’t affected by politics too much. However, I think I will apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation. I am looking for jobs related to cross-culture and international development. At the same time, I am also studying for the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and am going to apply for graduate schools. I will certainly follow all the (news) updates on any modifications related to my (international student) status in the future.
Interviewed by Yue Guan
HOMETOWN: HYDERABAD, INDIA
STUDIES AT DREXEL UNIVERSITY IN PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
MAJOR: ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND INNOVATION
Why did you decide to study in the U.S.?
I thought that the U.S. education system was the most flexible. I was looking at schools in Europe as well. I’m the type of person who has a lot of interests, and I didn’t want to narrow down on one thing and get into one stream of study.
At Drexel, we have such a variety of courses, and I’m also able to take them all at the same time. So that’s pretty much the reason that I chose the American education system.
Which high school did you attend?
Sreenidhi International. The curriculum is the IB diploma program. A lot of students take it because it’s more recognized around the world.
Did you consider schools in India?
No, I didn’t.
"Mario the Magnificent" is a bronze statue of the school mascot, the Drexel dragon. (Courtesy Drexel University)
How did you select schools to apply to?
We had a college counselor who would help us. But I think the most effective way that the colleges abroad could have marketed themselves to me was the delegates who came from abroad to showcase the schools. They had a lot of college fairs and things like that, and I think the two people I talked to the most were the delegate from Drexel and the delegate from UBC (University of British Columbia in Canada). Those were the final two schools that I was narrowing down on.
How many schools did you apply to?What did you think of the application process?
I applied to 11 schools.
I thought that some universities’ (applications) were interesting. When I was applying to USC (University of Southern California) … they had a lot of personal, more fun questions, and I thought that could really help an admissions officer get to know more about a student as opposed to essays and test scores.
I saw people around me in high school not only trying to do things to look accomplished, but they also had their essays written by other people, so those didn’t exactly reflect the type of person they were. I thought the applications that had some more personal questions and more fun questions made it nicer.
What was the most difficult part of the application process?
Trying to showcase my personality through the essays or through whatever questions they were asking. It was not too bad. I think the hardest part for me personally was choosing the schools to apply to because there are so many schools. And I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to study.
What’s your favorite place on campus?
I work at the startup incubator on campus. It’s called the Baiada Institute. I like going there a lot because it’s just a great environment where a lot of entrepreneurs and people who are interested in starting something all come and network.
It’s a very relaxed and “homey” environment, so anyone who wants to set up a company or find space over there, they can.
Drexel is the first school in the world to have “entrepreneurship” outside the business school. We have our own school, the School of Entrepreneurship. The school is pretty small, so I get a lot of one-on-one attention with all of the administration, which is great.
What has surprised you the most about life in the U.S.?
The classroom dynamic is kind of different. There are cultural things that are different. For instance, in India, if you were in a classroom, you would always greet the teacher and thank the teacher with every class. Over here, people don’t seem to do that. And everything is pretty fast-paced over here. Compared to my school in India, there’s a lot of work.
The Race Street Residence Hall is one of several dorms on campus. (Courtesy Drexel University)
What are 3 pieces of advice you’d give to students from India who want to study here?
The first advice would be to approach someone who has done a lot of research, such as a college counselor or a friend, and share information about colleges and scholarships and the application process. I think if you were doing it on your own, it would be difficult.
I benefitted a lot from the delegates who came from the colleges and my college counselor, who would check in on me.
The second thing would be to be original and actually put effort into the application process. I know a lot of people who got other people to write it up and I feel like college admissions officers can see through that because I know I could.
The third thing would be: Once you get on campus and you’re living in a dorm, eat a lot of oranges — because you’re going to get sick and you need the Vitamin C.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I have not thought that far into the future. Hopefully, I will have started something by then. I’m interested in the fashion industry, and I’m not inclined to stay in one place, so I’m not sure.
HOMETOWN: TAIYUAN, CHINA
HIGH SCHOOL: THE HIGH SCHOOL AFFILIATED TO RENMIN UNIVERSITY OF CHINA IN BEIJING
THIRD YEAR STUDENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
Why did you decide to study in the U.S.?
I feel like there are more opportunities here. And because my hometown is in another city, it (was) impossible for me to take the college entrance exam in Beijing. So I decided to go abroad.
How did you select the schools to apply to?
I basically took a look at the rankings and selected some top schools and some backup schools. I wanted to major in science — and now I’m majoring in physics —so I researched schools focused on science.
How many did you apply to?
What did you think of the application process?
I think it’s pretty detailed. It asks all sorts of questions. It’s pretty good, I feel — better than the ones in China which only depend on the exam scores.
It’s kind of like applying for a job. You have to fill out all your information and all your experience, extracurriculars.
What was the most difficult part?
As a high school student, you have to take care of both your academics as well as your extracurriculars and interests at the same time. That’s a pretty big challenge for international students.
I was in a Chinese training program in my high school. It’s not the international curriculum. So I had to take care of the academics required of Chinese students and I still also had to take the English exams and SATs.
Was there a school or private counselor who helped you with the application process?
I had a private counselor. She mostly helped me with my writing of my personal statement. I never wrote papers like that before. She gave me some advice on how to organize it and make it more attractive and engaging.
Why Berkeley? How did you know it was right for you?
I really like the weather in California. And Berkeley has great academic programs that I wanted to be part of.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union at UC Berkeley is a popular hangout. (Courtesy UC Berkeley)
Did you visit the campus before you applied?
Yes, but that was years before, when I was 12 or 13.
Did you do any virtual visits or look at videos of the school?
No, but I looked at some photos.
What’s your favorite place on campus?
I like the library best because I like reading a lot. Before I came here I didn’t imagine that Berkeley would have so many books in different languages. (The Gardner Main Stacks library) is underground, and it’s always really cool and a lot of people study there. I also the MLK Student Union, because it has an open study area where people can talk and meet others and have fun too.
What were some of your hobbies in high school?
I play tennis, and I did a lot of student organizations in high school. We have a movie festival, and I made a movie with my classmates.
Have you continued any of those hobbies at Berkeley?
I’m in the drama club right now. We do stage dramas instead of making videos, but they are kind of similar.
What has surprised you the most about life in the U.S.?
In Berkeley, it’s really open. People can talk about whatever they like. And there are so many protests. It’s really special. I wouldn’t imagine something like this happening at any university in China. There are so just many different groups of people with different identities and interests that I can identify myself with.
What do you know now that you wish you had known before you came to America?
I’m not sure about that. I feel like I adapted to the U.S. college life pretty quickly. The culture here is really from everywhere. It’s not hard for me to find some Chinese friends. There are just so many people here and I can always find a group that I feel I belong to.
Are most of your friends international students or American students?
I feel like it’s both. It’s really half-half.
What would be 3 tips you’d give students from China who want to study here?
What are your plans for after graduation? Will you stay in the U.S. or go back to China?
I’m planning to work for a couple of years (in the U.S.) before going to grad school. Right now I’m interested in going to business school in the U.S. But after the business school, I’m still not sure where I want to stay.
Yue Su, who goes by the name Selena in the United States, is a graduate student majoring in the science of accounting at Pace University in New York City. A native of Shandong Province in China, she’s a highly motivated student who wanted to see more of the world and gain experience in American business culture. She set her eyes on one of the world’s biggest financial districts — New York City — and chose Pace University as a good place to achieve her goals.
What else about studying at Pace University appealed to you? Did you tour the campus before applying?
Pace University was the best campus location-wise. It’s close to Wall Street, which I knew would present me with many opportunities to find internships and network with professionals. I didn’t tour the campus before applying, but I did get to see various pictures of it. I liked that the school was located at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge and that there was an amazing night view of the World Trade Center.
What are some of the extra-curricular things you do? What made you get involved?
A while ago I participated in the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program for two months, which helps low-income individuals file their tax returns. Currently, I serve as Vice President of Pace’s Toastmasters Club. I often visit corporate Toastmasters clubs, including Moody’s, Blackrock’s and Standard & Poor’s. These clubs have given me the chance to learn from professionals.
I serve as the Chairman of Community Service at Beta Alpha Psi (an international honor society for students and professionals in the financial sector). I’m in charge of scheduling and managing community service events, as well as leading the group in volunteering every week.
Besides my after-school activities, I work at the Pace International office as a Student Assistant. Before joining all of these clubs, I was a girl who lacked confidence, but through my involvement in these activities I feel myself improving.
Anyone who studies far from home knows that it can be tough being away from friends and family. How have you dealt with homesickness?
I’ve never felt that way, since I’m kind of an independent person. Some tips for those who do get homesick would be to try to make plans for every day and to do what you like to do. That way you don’t have time to miss your family!
Tell us about your current living situation. Do you have any tips for incoming students?
I live off campus with two roommates, but we hardly hang out together because we all have different goals and hobbies. Choosing a place to live while in college depends on what you’re looking for. Do you care more about rental fees, the distance to school, the environment, or what? It all comes down to personal preference. I prefer to live near campus. It’s much more convenient this way. I can head on over to school whenever I need to.
How did you go about making friends? Any advice for our readers?
The best way to make friends is to join clubs because you can meet a group of people who have the same interests as you, which makes it easier to create long-lasting friendships. Take me, for example; the Pace Toastmasters Club is a group of people who are all interested in public speaking. We always have topics in common to chat about.
What are some advantages of being an international student?
International students work harder because of expectations we’ve set for ourselves. We come here to study with a goal to absorb as much knowledge and culture as possible in a short period of time. That means we need to be more efficient in the way we learn than native students do. And we cherish our college experience more because we are only in the country temporarily.
What are some of the differences between life in China versus life in America?
The culture in America is different from China. In China, it is a virtue to be modest and humble, which, in my eyes, seems to be quite the opposite in America, whether regarding academics or maintaining a social life. There also seems to be a mentality of “I can” instead of “I may” in the U.S. For example, if someone asks me whether I can do a project, I am supposed to say, “Yes, I can” instead of “Maybe, I am not sure if I have the ability to handle it.” It’s all about being confident in your abilities to do something.
Confidence is significantly important. It doesn’t seem that an unconfident person in the U.S. will have an easy time.
(Nicole Martinez conducted this interview, which has been condensed and edited.)
Kaplan International supports the Pathways program at Pace and the “On Campus With” feature that recognizes successful Pathways students.
HOMETOWN: RICHMOND HILL, ONTARIO
SOPHOMORE AT MANHATTANVILLE COLLEGE IN PURCHASE, NEW YORK
How was your transition coming from Canada to the United States? Why did you choose to study here?
The transition was very easy for me. Joining the hockey team helped because there were other players in the same situation as me. The coaching staff showed an interest in me and that made me feel comfortable to move here. I chose to study here because playing NCAA hockey gives a better opportunity to continue your playing career even after school, which is better than the opportunities that a Canadian university would have given me.
What’s your major and why did you choose it?
I chose to major in Finance because I love money and this career choice lets me deal with money all day every day!
Why did you pick to study at Manhattanville?
I picked Manhattanville because of the instant connection I felt with the hockey coaching staff. Once that relationship was established, I then got really excited to know that New York City was a 20-minute train ride from campus.
The connections I can make through my studies and being close to this world-class city made it hard to resist. I also enjoy the privacy we get to enjoy on campus. We can enjoy the big city but also live just outside it, where the streets and sidewalks aren’t as hectic as the city.
What’s the most difficult thing you’ve had to adjust to?
If I had to pick one thing, it would be food. I’m fortunate enough to have a father of Italian descent and a mother of Greek descent who are both great cooks, so sometimes I miss home-cooked meals. However, I’ve adjusted to the cafeteria.
Do you ever feel homesick?
I don’t feel homesick but only because this is my fourth year living away from home. I used to play junior hockey away from home, so I’ve gotten over the home-sick phase. I get to visit home over Christmas break though.
Ontario's Matthew Lippa, a varsity player at Manhattanville College, has been playing ice hockey since he was 7.
What’s one of the best experiences you’ve had here?
I’ve had a lot of great experiences, but I think the best would be waking up every day and going to hockey practice with my teammates and then going to class with them. These people become more than a team or peers, they become your brothers.
When did you start playing hockey?
I started ice skating at the age of 4 and fell in love with it right away. I started playing competitive ice hockey in a league at the age of 7.
How do you spend your free time when not at the rink?
I spend my time playing video games or being outdoors as much as possible. I like playing other sports like basketball, soccer and baseball. Of course you have to find time for homework, so time management is something important to me that I’ve definitely been working on.
Reid Castle, built in 1892, is the face of Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York. (Credit: Manhattanville College)
What’s your favorite place on campus?
The castle. It’s really nice to walk through it and see all the history it has behind it. I am lucky I get to attend a school that has so much history for me to learn from. My favorite thing about Manhattanville is the atmosphere of the small setting and just how comfortable it is to live here.
Do you have any jobs or internships?
I don’t have any jobs or internships, but I’m hoping to get one soon. My future plans after I graduate are to see what happens with hockey first. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll be happy in the Business/Finance field.
How did you feel about the U.S. presidential election?
As a Canadian, I know how important American politics are to my home nation just north of the border. The coverage in Canada was wall-to-wall. Unfortunately, this election seemed to produce more headlines for the entertainment section rather than the politics section. I just hope the president puts the people first.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to an international student who wants to study in the United States?
Make the most of the opportunity you have been given. They are four very fast years. The people you meet are from all over the world and will probably be your lifelong friends. Use these connections to better your future and open doors for you after you graduate. Also, the more friends you have around the world, the easier it is to travel and visit them.