When his company in Brazil relocated Diorgenes to Houston, it was only for a short period. After just a few months working part time and studying English in our program, the company decided to give him a permanent position in their Houston subsidiary.
Seven years and three promotions later, Diorgenes shares his experiences in our program and what improving his English did for his career.
(Interview first published in the Study in the USA website, “Student Experiences” section, on June 29, 2019.)
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I chose to study in the USA, because the company that I was working for at the time had an office in Houston, TX.
How did you choose your intensive English program?
A friend of mine told me about the ESL program at Rice University, and after doing some research and learning about the program, I knew that it was the best fit compared to other options offered in Houston.
What do you like best about your program or university?
The teachers, for sure, were the best part of the program. All of them had the skills to teach and understand how to deal with students from different backgrounds and nationalities.
What do you miss most about home?
My family and friends.
How long have you been studying here? How has your English improved? How has this program helped you to handle future study at a U.S. university?
I took ESL classes for 6 months and it helped me to improve my English skills tremendously. İn my case, my goal was to develop my career, and studying and working in the USA definitely changed my career and helped me to move up the corporate ladder.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
I was surprised of how fast I was able to make friends and grow my network in such a short period of time. While I was studying, I had a chance to meet a lot of people from different places. Even though we came from different backgrounds, when you are working on achieving the same goals you find out that different culture or language is not a barrier anymore.
… your biggest disappointment?
I did not have any specific disappointments.
How have you handled:
… language differences?
I exposed myself as much as I could to talk to other people, especially Americans, in order to practice and improve my English skills. I was not afraid to say something wrong, but was always paying attention to how others speak and tried to apply that in my conversations.
Since I was working before, I was able to prepare myself financially in advance.
… adjusting to a different educational system?
The fact that the universities already have so many international students makes the transition very smooth.
What are your activities? (clubs, sports, student associations, travel, homestay programs, special activities or trips sponsored by your program)
My main activities are related to sports and group activities in general. I keep myself busy playing soccer, indoor volleyball, sand volleyball, game night with friends, or volunteering at various events. Also, the city of Houston offers a lot of great events to attend throughout the year such as the rodeo, concerts, and sports events like basketball, soccer, American football, baseball, etc. In addition, traveling around the U.S. is a great way to relax and learn more about its culture and history.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
Making friends can be a big challenge for a lot of people, but it only takes a simple step: saying “hi” to somebody, introducing yourself, talking about your background or starting a conversation that might lead to a friendship. The easiest way to make friends is when you are doing something that you like, and find other people with the same interests, which helps to build a connection. In my case, I made a lot of friends playing sports, and met a lot of foreigners since we have similar struggles sometimes. Also, it is important to be open to saying yes when people invite you for events and to give others the chance to get to know you, and you can get to know them as well.
What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My career goal is to achieve a high-level management position, and my education in the U.S. has contributed directly to my development. Also my studies in the U.S. gave me the opportunity to exchange experiences with other students and that helped me with personal goals and ideas of how things can be done differently.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?
Going to another country to study might seem intimidating and costly, but what you can gain is priceless. For us, coming from Brazil, the culture is not too different and the language is not hard to learn, especially compared to other backgrounds like students coming from Asia, or the Middle East. The food and customs are very easy to adapt to. Americans are in general very friendly, and show interest in learning about Brazil.
If you are considering studying in the U.S., you should do some research about what the university can offer, the city where you will be located, the living costs, and prepare yourself to fully immerse in the program. I totally recommend it, not just for what you can learn at school, but also for the life experience. Studying abroad is a unique opportunity to explore a new country, new cities, try different kinds of food, meet interesting people, and also learn more about yourself.