Foreign students at Rider having ‘awesome’ experiences

Rocío Fernandez De La Flor

My major is business administration, but in Spain I have one more major in tourism. I’m currently studying abroad in an exchange program here at Rider University and it’s my first time in the U.S.

Coming to this country was one of my biggest dreams. Last year, my university offered us the opportunity to study abroad, and when I saw that the U.S. was one of the options, I had no doubt I wanted to apply for it.

I think that one of the things that made me interested in coming here was the difference in the culture and the lifestyle. Everything is totally different, and I was really excited to experience it. Everything that I knew about U.S. life was from the movies.

Many people think that going to another country to study is easy, but actually it’s a challenge. Last year, every day consisted of going to class, studying to achieve the demanded GPA, gathering the essential documents to come to the U.S. and preparing for the International English Language Testing System. The most stressful part was that not everybody who applied to study in the U.S. could go. There were only a few slots, and Rider only had three. When I finally overcame all this, I felt stronger and more confident because I was one of those three within my whole university to achieve it.

My favorite parts of studying here are the opportunites to learn and improve my English, to travel and visit other states I have in mind and to meet new people and make new friends. However, my favorite part is to live through this awesome experience. I cannot say anything bad about it. I recommend it to everyone.

There are some days that I’m feeling a little bit sad and homesick. I think that’s also a good feeling, because it means that you miss the place where you belong and the people that have been next to you. I’m so proud to be here, and the saddest thing is that I have to leave at the end of the semester. I will miss all the good friends that I made here and almost everything about American life. I have learned so much.

Johanna Grünwald

I am an exchange student from Graz, Austria. I am studying to become a teacher for secondary school, where I will teach English and psychology. I have always been fascinated by U.S. culture, and during my studies in Austria I heard great things about studying abroad from other students. I wanted to improve my English and learn more about university life in the U.S., so the decision to come here was easy.

A few annoying bureaucratic procedures ended up being the only thing that stood between me and my time in the U.S. Getting everything sorted out cost me time and nerves, but it was definitely worth it. After getting picked up at the airport, I immediately felt welcomed, and all the activities during the orientation days made it easy to talk to people who were in the same situation.

So far, my favorite part of studying here has been the community on campus. In Gee Hall, where I live, you can get to know people from many different countries, which is a great opportunity to learn more about other cultures. I also like my courses, not only because they are very interesting, but because the groups are much smaller than at my home university, and the professors make an effort to learn the students’ names.

What I miss from home is definitely Austrian food and good public transportation. I live in a city, which means that shops are within walking distance and if something is farther away, a bus or your bike will get you there. However, what I will miss when I go back are life on campus and all the events the university offers. In Austria, going to university only refers to going to your classes, but I have the feeling that here it includes so much more than just academics.

Elena Martínez Ramírez

I’m an international student at Rider University. I’m from Spain, where I am a performing arts major, and I came here to continue my studies in theater.

This decision, which I made about one year ago, has triggered a journey in which I have had lots of new experiences that I would have never had if I hadn’t come here. Of course, it’s always difficult to go far from your home, your family and everything you know. It’s difficult to go to another country that has another language, a different culture and different traditions. It’s just like traveling to another world. But, after spending some time here, I definitely can say that it’s worth it.

I knew that I wanted to come to the United States because, out of all the countries around the world, it’s one that has had significant development and offers more opportunities in my field of theater. I knew that the learning techniques here were really different from the ones I have experienced in Spain, and I wanted to try them. I wanted to know more about American theater and take advantage of those methods to be able to grow as a person and a professional.

So, since the moment I learned my Spanish university offered an international study program, I decided I wanted to participate. It’s true that the process has been hard and stressful sometimes (passing different English-level tests, dealing with visas and papers, the uncertainty of what could happen). I just had so many questions with no answers about what my life would be like here, that it was really difficult at some points to continue, but after seeing that I could fulfill a dream and that it was only the first step toward working to achieve the rest of them, it was worth it.

Of course, there are lots of things I miss from Spain: my home, my family, my friends and my teachers. The worst part is not having them here so I can share with them everything I’m experiencing. But when I have to go back to Spain, it will also be difficult to leave so many things here. I’m in love with the American working technique, based on a daily work ethic that focuses on improving and going forward. I will also miss the university concept. In Spain, university is like another high school; there’s not a really big difference in your life when you pass from one to the other. But here is completely different. It’s one step forward to real life. It’s building new relationships, and in many cases it’s learning how to live on my own. I think it’s like exploding the bubble in which all of us lived when we were children.

It’s really a unique experience that everyone who has the opportunity should take advantage of.

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