Sandra Marques Reis from Brazil is studying English in the Texas Intensive English Program in Austin, Texas.
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
It is well known how important the English language is for a professional career as well as for life. I believe that the best way to learn a new language is to immerse oneself in a country where it is spoken, and the USA offers several options to do that. Afterwards, I also want to study in a university and, in order to improve my English skills, I decided to study this language beforehand.
Why did you choose Texas Intensive English Program?
I picked Texas Intensive English Program (TIEP) for the good reputation that its staff has and the intensive courses. The city of Austin is also very attractive since it has a climate less cold than the other cities in the northern part of the country.
What do you like best?
The teachers, staff and the school environment are very welcoming and warm.
What do you miss most?
I miss my family, friends, and Brazilian foods.
How has this program helped you to handle future study at a U.S. university?
I have been studying English since March 2014. I believe that my English is making a lot of progress in several aspects. The daily routine helps to naturally enrich the vocabulary while interacting with other people, teachers and classmates. The school provides a path to develop in several areas: writing, reading, listening and vocabulary. I believe that this course will help me when I join the university.
What was your biggest surprise?
I feel that the education is directed so that the student can be capable of self-managing his/her academic and personal life. I was surprised with how much the people get involved in the community, such as for volunteer work, free cultural activities and the study groups that aim to contribute with each other’s personal growth.
... your biggest disappointment?
I have not been disappointed with anything other than the excessive spiciness of the Texan food.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
When I first got here, I felt that it was very hard to communicate both to understand and to say what I really meant. My smartphone has always been my trustful partner to help me find a word or expression. Nowadays, I feel much more confident both to speak and to listen.
I believe that good planning helps the student from going through financial hardships. It is important to consider all the expenses on top of the tuition payments, such as housing, transportation, food and, of course, leisure and the irresistible shopping.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
I felt that the biggest difference was the amount of homework, which extends the studying time and school activities for over three hours after school.
What are your activities?
I do volunteer work in a fair trade store and I also participated in a study group called Toastmasters.
How easy or difficult was making friends?
It is easier to make friends in the school environment, since everyone is interested in learning about each other cultures. Outside the school, people are friendly and nice, and it is up to the student to go after the opportunities to meet more people in bars, clubs, parks, libraries and so forth.
How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My goals are to keep working on business management and marketing. I believe that the knowledge that I am acquiring here will bring me good career opportunities. The market is competitive and globalized and I believe that this experience will bring me the international market knowledge.
What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?
I recommend never being afraid of starting. Studying abroad brings a new view of the world that can only be acquired when you really live it. During this time, you should take advantage of every single opportunity to learn, whether by having a conversation with native speakers, reading newspapers daily, listening to music, watching TV shows and movies, taking a walk throughout the town or even going to a grocery store and reading the product labels. The learning process will always be at your reach if you make the effort!