Like for the majority of Russian students my first visit to the USA was in 2008 when I took part in the program "Work and Travel”. This allows you to live and work in the USA during certain period of time, usually 3 or 4 months. As a rule, it is enough time to understand how much you like American culture and the lifestyle and whether you feel like belonging to this society where you work. The first three weeks living in another country didn’t meet my expectations. Problems with understanding American English, a dead-end job and a life, free from my friends made me feel homesick. Imagine my astonishment when at the end of the third month the idea about coming back crossed my mind.
In a year on May 27, 2009 my plane landed at JFK airport in New York. I bought a bus ticket and in a couple of hours I found myself in a small tourist town, Wildwood, NJ. Without any details of my living situation I had just one idea in my head - staying there but the university and the visa status didn’t work out as hoped. After coming back to Russia I began to look for any possible opportunities to go to the USA for a longer period of time. Fortunately, this chance didn’t take long to appear. The faculty where I am still studying gives its students the opportunity to study abroad provided you have good progress in studies, a good score at TOEFL exam and the financial support sufficient enough to cover your fees tuition, housing and a meal plan.
On August 18, 2010 I arrived at Dulles airport, Washington, DC. From there I set out to my final destination – Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA. This private university is located in a picturesque place, 70 miles away from the capital and it is considered to be the oldest classical university of America where about 2500 students from 29 countries and 39 states of America are getting their diplomas.
Upon my arrival, I was housed in one of the dormitories on the campus. My room looked absolutely unfurnished and there was just a bed, a wooden table and a wardrobe. There was no computer, fridge or microwave oven in the room. The first thought, which I had, was something like – how would you live like that! Later on, it became clear that all my worries were idle. Actually nowI have a 17-meal plan per week and I can have a bite any time between 8 am and 6 pm any day of the week. My payment also covered the cost of the laptop, which I got after choosing the courses. The need for watching TV also disappeared soon, as I was involved in different kinds of activities and learning process.
Courses that you have to take in the USA are absolutely your choice. Some of the students prefer to take the subjects that they find useful for their future occupations but others take ones that seem to be easier for them. It's so typical of the democratic American education system. The ordinary American student has on average 4 or 5 classes per semester. At first sight it might seem to be insufficient for the total immersion in the learning process, but when you get your first assignment you will probably change your mind.
Two days ago, American guys and I finished working on the joint project "Russian-American economic collaboration”. This Skype videoconference was between the students from Ulyanovsk State University, Russia and our Shenandoah University team and referred to my SIFE seminar class. SIFE means "Students in free enterprise” and its motto is "A head for business. A heart for the world”. So, if one day you turn out to study at American university and take this course you will probably notice that individuals with their knowledge and passion for business can be a powerful force for better changes.
Also, you shouldn’t forget about the most attractive part of the university’s life – activities, parties and study groups that are represented here in full. It’s up to you, what you like best. Some students get down to studying but others spend the whole night hanging out with their friends. If you don’t have friends at first, give people some time to find out how smart, charming and charismatic you are. Keep in mind, that dozens of other boys and girls from different countries are in the same situation as you are. Perhaps, this is just one reason why my best friend here is a Chinese guy.
Currently, my work and study kill almost all my time but nevertheless my friends and I can find a couple of hours to go out. It might be a restaurant, a pub or a trip to Washington, DC. The nightlife is still not for me because I am just twenty, but I adore the idea that a lot of amazing things are waiting for me in the future. Anyway, in order to choose your own way you need to be here first. So, close this ezine article, think a little bit, say good-bye to your near and dear and set out on a journey!