An interview with Paolo Kwan, from Hong Kong, who is improving his English while studying Business Administration at Sierra College in northern California.
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
It provides a nice education in a beautiful country. When I was younger I use to watch American movies and I wanted to visit the United States. They always talked about the American dream, and I wanted to come and see it.
How did you choose your intensive English program?
Sierra College is one of the biggest community colleges in northern California. It is in a quiet location but has a beautiful campus.
The college has a good business program. I can study for two years at Sierra College and then two years at my transfer school to earn my degree.
What do you like best?
I also enjoy the quality of the teaching at the college. There is a writing center where I can go at any time. The teachers can make suggestions to improve my essay, regarding grammar and my vocabulary. At the Math Center, they can explain in detail the problems.
What do you miss most?
I miss the food and also my family
How has this program helped you to handle future study at a U.S. university?
The program has allowed me to improve my English before I transfer to a university.
What was your biggest surprise?
I was surprised by the cultural difference. The taste and style of food is very different. The amount of food is a lot larger. A small portion in the USA is a large portion in Hong Kong.
When people from America find out that I am from another country they ask a lot of questions. They are very interested in you and finding out about Hong Kong.
... your biggest disappointment?
I have not had any since I came here.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
It is important not to be shy, as that does not help you when you are trying to improve your language. I make sure that I study, practice and speak as often as I can—that is the only way to improve.
I am being supported by my family.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
The American system is much more open. In Hong Kong you just learn what the teacher writes on the board. In America, you discuss the issues and focus more on ideas.
What are your activities?
I am interested in traveling around the USA. I have been to San Francisco, which you can reach by train from Sierra College. In my free time I go out with friends.
How easy or difficult is making friends?
It has not been that hard to make friends in the USA. Other people at the college are friendly and want to make friends as well.
How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
I think that the U.S. education system will provide me with good resources and skills to be able to support myself in order to get hired in my own country.
What is your advice to other students?
An awesome life experience is waiting for you in the future. You will learn so much more than you think. Nothing is impossible, so go ahead and give it a try.