In this interview, an international student at James Madison University (JMU) in Virginia discusses his experience studying abroad and his after-graduation plans.
Question (Q): Where are you from and what are you studying at JMU?
Andy (A): My name is Andy Rivas. I am from Venezuela and I study engineering at JMU.
Q: How did you choose JMU as your study abroad university?
A: There was an agent who was helping me out to decide which school to go to. When I saw the pictures I was in love with JMU campus. I thought “Wow, this is where I want to be!”
Q: What is the engineering department like at JMU?
A: The facilities are great but what I like the most is that the department is not very big. You actually get to know all of your professors and students. They know your name, who you are, what you do, what you plan, and that really helps because you feel like you are in a family.
Q: Have you joined any societies on campus?
A: I have joined a club called LSA. It’s the Latino Students Alliance where I get to know students who have a Hispanic background but they were raised in the US. The way they were raised is different from how I was raised but we've got a very good connection. They have been very nice to me and I get to go to many events and community services. I have a lot of fun with them.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I graduate in May and I am planning to move down to Florida. It’s closer to my home and I know some people there, so hopefully I will be able to move and get a job. I am going to start applying to jobs this semester. I already had an internship last summer and it worked out perfectly.
Q: Do you feel that your university experience at JMU is very different to what you would have had if you stayed in Venezuela?
A: Yes, it is very different. Back home education is not bad but it is very different. In the US, professors listen and try to help you out while back home it’s the opposite. You have to listen to them and you cannot share what you think as much as you can do here. It’s a whole different perspective.
Q: If one of your friends wanted to come to JMU and start studying at the ISC, what advice would you give them?
A: When you are coming from a different country, you don’t really know what to expect when you get to the US. The ISC is a very good first step to get to know what it’s going to be like. The ISC staff teaches you how the system works, what you can expect from it, and what you should be doing to succeed. I would recommend it for sure.
Andy’s story is an excellent example of an international student who had a dream of studying at a university in the US and has made his dream come true. He is excited to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in engineering and is very optimistic about this future plans. If you’d like to tell your own story of studying abroad in the US, feel free to share your posts on social media using #StudyUSAJourney hashtag.