International Student in America – Mapping your Routes

In January from 24-26, I attended MAUVSA ADVANCE CONFERENCE III. It’s a three days conference about hosted by MAUVSA (Mid-Atlantic Union of Vietnamese Student Association), a cultural organization which “seeks to serve, empower, and unify the Vietnamese American community, the VSAs of the Mid-Atlantic region through inspiring young Vietnamese Americans, fostering cultural awareness, promoting social justice and leadership, and being the voice of their members” (mauvsa.org) More than 9 schools from DC, Maryland, and Virginia such as UVA, GWU, VT, Georgetown U, UMBC and others gathered in Front Royal, VA to take part in this wonderful event. This year’s conference theme focuses on Vietnamese American young adults looking into their cultural roots, gaining a stronger sense of self to be better equipped in mapping their future.

Being a freshman, it was my first time attending MAUVSA ADVANCE CONFERENCE. Together with my friends we signed up for the conference, booked a hotel room at Holiday Inn where the conference took place, packed our stuff, and set out to Front Royal. As it’s all settled down, we changed into business casual clothes for the opening ceremony. Many interesting guest speakers were invited to come. ILryong Moon – a professor at Harvard University – gave a speech on his own determination to succeed as an immigrant, shared his struggles and comfort zone in the U.S. and what it takes to be a leader especially for a person of ethnic minority, and what being a minority leader means to community. This year there were the most number of attendees at the conference than were in any previous years – up to 226 students from different universities. James Madison University VSA once again hold the title of the highest number of students with 30+ attendees. After the opening ceremony, the rest of the evening was full with fun games, ice-breakers, laughter and joys. My team the FAVE 5 came third in a competition. It was a memorable night of networking and making new friends.

The second day of the conference was all about workshops. It was really involving and fascinating to participate in these workshops with great topics and incredible speakers. We learnt about the lion dance in “Lion Dance Past, Present & Future” workshop. The ”Effective Communications is NOT Optional” workshop presented useful tips on how you can improve your skills in written, oral and non-verbal communications and helped to assess what you’re strong in and what you’re not, and how you can take steps to address those areas. In ”Purpose-Driven Leadership” interactive workshop, we discussed what it means to be a purpose-driven leader, learnt about what separates the great organizations and great leaders from the not-so-great and were shared with basic understanding of how we can inspire people to act. In the evening, the conference ballroom was brightened up with beautiful people and their shinning personalities. A great gala-concert and delicious dinner for all the participants was accompanied with a rich amusing entertainment program. Famous FreeStyle Crew and Maximus Regaldo provided us with magnificent catchy dance moves; my friends from James Madison University – the music trio – filled up the atmosphere with their soulful music; and, of course,“DJ Knom” who played on the music beats for the after-party. MA-ALL-DAY!

The morning after I was a little bit sad, not only because it was the last day of the conference, but also because I had to say “goodbyes” to all these wonderful awesome people I just met. Everyone was wearing a conference T-shirt for a group picture. Though it’s a bitter-sweet feeling for everyone, we promised to stay in touch and were looking forward to the next meeting. I am so thankful for this amazing opportunity that Mauvsa Advanced Conference III gave me. MAC III successful completed its mission of “providing attendees with an insightful and inspiring weekend of engaging key note speakers; relevant workshops; popular entertainment; invaluable opportunities to connect and network; and to be a part of a philanthropic mission.”

Student Life – International Festival in Harrisonburg

I still remember my first impression of Harrisonburg. It was a cloudy and windy day, when I got off the smallest plane – that can barely fit 10 people– I have ever been on. Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport was also the smallest airport I have ever visited. There were only 10 of us, passengers, a ticket controller, and a shuttle bus driver in the airport, who was kind enough to give us a ride to Harrisonburg. Always lived in an urban area, Harrisonburg seemed to be such a lifeless and deserted place at first. As an international student, I moved in earlier than other James Madison University students. That’s probably the reason why it felt so empty in the town. As a school week started, thousands of students filled up the James Madison University beautiful campus. Until last week Harrisonburg for me consisted only of James Madison University students and their families. Its borders started from Walmart and Valley mall and ended at Memorial hall. I had never actually been to the city’s downtown, except for my friends’ apartment maybe, but still I had no idea what Harrisonburg and its local citizens were. Fortunately, I finally got a chance to take a look at this city’s community.

The word "Love'' in different languages at Harrisonburg Festival

We celebrated James Madison University International week, with a theme “Borders and Boundaries.” The events throughout the week included such events as the student debate on a serious problem of a harm and benefits of US wiretapping, which I found really involving and useful, the culture parade of various students organizations, a music concert, study abroad fair, photo contest, and a world cup soccer tournament, which I participated in as a part of VietChamps team. The highlight of the week was definitely Harrisonburg International Festival on September 28, 2013 – “a celebration honoring the diverse cultures and backgrounds that make up the local community”(Harrisonburg-international-festival.org). It was my first Harrisonburg cultural experience. Before coming here I stereo-typically thought that Harrisonburg consisted 99% of whites; this festival, however, broke all my expectations. I learnt how actually diverse this community is.

The International Festival, which took place at Virginia’s beautiful Hillandale Park, provided a friendly forum which allowed people to learn and share each other’s cultural and linguistic values. It offers so much wonderful things, such as cuisines from all over the world, music, dance, a multi-language area that featured traditional folk art, and many other. As a member of Vietnamese Students Association (VSA), I came out to the Fashion Show of International Cultural Dress, one of events of this festival, to support my members and learn about other cultures’ traditional costumes. The colorfulness of these stunning costumes brightened up the atmosphere of the whole festival. One of the performers, my friend, borrowed my Ao Dai, which I myself haven’t ever worn before. It looked gorgeous on her; the snow white dress with the patterns of peachy pink lotuses worn with bright pink pantaloons perfectly represents the pure flawless beauty of a Vietnamese woman. I really enjoyed this magnificent show. After this, my friends and I went to have some food. There were delicious drools-dropping delicacies from different countries, such as Mexico, India, Brazil, Argentina, and Italia. I had a refreshing Taiwanese boba tea, also known as bubble tea, a delicious mix of tea with exotic flavors and/or creamy milk filled with boba, sweet “bubbles” made of tapioca or juice, and ate some sticky rice cake with mango. The food was probably the best part of the festival. I also enjoyed a fascinating show of African music, which reflected a playful and cheerful spirit of the festival. I bought some exclusive bracelets from the World Bazaar of unique hand-made and imported art and souvenirs. Walking around from one corner to another, it felt like as if I were traveling from one country to another. The drawings of nearly 50 flags on the asphalt left a huge impression on me. As I found my country’s flag I felt proud in some way and delighted, that my little country was recognized and included. This was a wonderful experience that I would never have in my hometown. Although there are also many cultural activities and festivals in Russia, there is no such a friendly tight-knit community as it is here in Harrisonburg.

Harrisonburg International Festival was not only a language opportunity, but also a great educational learning opportunity to share different opinions for enhancing Harrisonburg’s intercultural community and engaging global concerns. This Festival supports different cultures’ awareness and their contributions to the society. Thanks to this experience I get to know Harrisonburg and its community, which I am now a part of, better. It was an incredible way to spend a great time with your friends and learn with a pleasure. I am looking forward to the next festival, and can’t wait to be a part of it next year.

My first concert ever!

The concert I went for was the “Passion: Let the Future Begin” Tour featuring Kristian Stanfill.  It was held on Thursday, October 24th. The tour goes all over the country and this year was its first time coming to Harrisonburg. JMU was privileged to host the event.  It was held in the Memorial Hall Auditorium from 7 to 9 pm. The doors were opened at 6:40 pm and people got their seats on a first-come-first-serve basis. Tickets for the concert were $10 for general admission before the day of the concert and $12 at the door on the day of the concert. However, the tickets sold out before the day of the concert arrived so there were none left to sell at the door. There were more than a thousand people in the auditorium.

The event was sponsored by DUU and Aletheia and promoted by the Shenandoah Valley Justice Initiative (SVJI), a student organization that strives to end human trafficking through advocacy and prayer. The main purposes of the event were to enjoy a night of worship and to raise awareness of the injustice of human trafficking. According to SVJI, human trafficking is now the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world.  Approximately 27 million people are enslaved today worldwide. Human trafficking (sexual, domestic, industrial, agricultural) is a $32 billion per year industry, bringing in more revenue than the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB combined. People were encouraged to give donations that were to benefit the Shenandoah Valley Justice Initiative.

Initially I wasn’t planning on going for the concert but my friend who had bought a ticket had too much schoolwork to go, so she offered me her ticket and I gladly accepted it.  When I came into the entrance I stood in line and someone scanned my ticket and let me in. Another person put a stamp on my hand to indicate that I had bought a ticket.  I didn’t realize the concert was such a big deal until I saw how many people were already there waiting for the doors to open. When the doors opened, I got a seat and settled in to enjoy the concert.

It was an evening of wonderful worship with Kristian Stanfill and the Passion band. I really enjoyed the singing. Most of the songs were popular contemporary Christian songs that almost everybody was familiar with and we sang along and worshiped God with enthusiasm. Everything ( especially the lights effects) was new to me because it was my first concert ever.  The sound was very loud and the lights were very flashy, moved with the rhythm of whatever song was being sung and changed colors. It had a very nice effect. In between the concert, a speaker came up and talked for about twenty minutes. He then asked if there were people who wanted to give their lives to Jesus and led them in a prayer. Overall, the concert was so much fun and I was so glad I went!!! There is always an ongoing stream of activities to partake from on campus. We should take some time to explore what this campus has to offer. You never know; just like me, you could be in for a lovely surprise :)

Off campus student housing at James Madison University

In my first semester at James Madison University (Spring 2013), I lived at Rockingham Hall – on-campus housing for international students. JMU students who know Rockingham Hall know that though it is technically an “on campus” residence, it isn’t exactly on the campus. I need not debate concerning this issue; the fact that one needs to take a bus to get there is enough evidence! Also, when living on campus, it is mandatory that one purchases a meal plan. Though there are quite a number of buses that go to Rockingham, they don’t run on the weekends, so trying to get on campus to eat during the weekend was kind of a pain. I felt as if I was constantly strategizing which bus to take and when, just so I could get food to eat! That said, it was a very comfortable residence, my room had a lovely view and I had a very pleasant roommate, so I enjoyed it for the most part.

Where you choose to live off campus is important. When choosing where to live toward the end of last Spring, I had a long list of criteria that wherever I would choose needed to meet. It needed to be safe; I shouldn’t fear for my safety if I were coming back late from the library or class. It needed to not  be too far off campus (because I don’t have a car) and it also needed to have a bus stop (so I could easily take the bus).  It needed to be a relatively quiet environment (not too noisy or party-ish over the weekends). It needed to be close to a supermarket or stores, so I could easily buy groceries. It needed to not be too expensive, and the list went on! (Yes, I’m very picky; sue me! :D )

Off campus housing for James Madison University students

Living room at my off campus apartment

I now live off campus at a residence called The Commons (And yes, it satisfied all my criteria :) ).  At The Commons, each apartment has four rooms and two bathrooms, then the washer and dryer compartment, sitting room and kitchen. A lot of off campus apartments are the same way but the number of rooms and bathrooms vary. One perk of living off campus is that I can eat whatever I want because I get to cook my own food. On the other hand, it is not as convenient as simply going to PC Dukes or E Hall to get food, which I did when I lived on campus!

I have three roommates and they are awesome! Fun fact: the french word for roommate is “colocataire” (I’m taking French 101 this semester ;) ) I was determined to live with people I knew because living with random people for a whole year doesn’t seem wise to me, though it has worked out for some people I know who have done so. One of my roommates is a fellow international student  with whom I was already good friends; another is part of the same Christian student organization (called Campus Crusade for Christ, or Cru for short) that I’m part of. My third roommate was friends with my roommate who also goes to Cru, so that’s how we all came together! I used to share a room when I was on campus, but now I have my own room and I love that! ( I guess we’re technically “housemates”, since we have our own rooms).

Baking cookies in my off campus apartment

Cookies, anyone?

My roommates and I call our apartment “The Girl KAVE”, KAVE being each of our first name’s initials combined (cool, right?! P.S: I’m the “V” :) ) We play games together and bake one another cookies and cakes and we currently have pink balloons hanging on the ceiling in our sitting room! So far, I am really enjoying the off campus life <3

Bringing my culture to the USA as an international student

International students at James Madison UniversityThe International Week at James Madison University, a celebration of the diversity we international students bring to the University, just ended. It started on Monday, September 23rd and ended on  Friday 27th. On Saturday, the 18th Annual Harrisonburg International Festival was held  from noon – 6:00 p.m at Hillandale Park, Harrisonburg. The Harrisonburg International Festival brings together a diverse variety of performing, visual, and culinary arts from around the world and from the local community. There are usually mouth-watering delicacies, music, dance, creative folk art, and intercultural learning opportunities.

I was too busy to go to the Harrisonburg International Festival, but I did get to participate in another interesting cultural event. I go to an African church here in Harrisonburg called The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). It is a very big international church whose headquarters are in Nigeria. The parish here in Harrisonburg is called “Jesus House Parish”. Last Sunday, we had our Cultural Day Service. Each member of the congregation dressed up in a traditional attire from their nation to come for the service. The service was held from 10 am to 12:30 pm. During the praise and worship, various languages from the countries represented in the church were sang. When a particular country’s language was sang, all the people from the country went to the front of the pulpit and danced and sang along. It was a very beautiful experience. Countries that were represented were Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Congo, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cameroon and Togo. There were also a couple of Americans who came to see some African culture.

After the music, the pastor got one person  from each of the nationalities present to go to the front of the pulpit as a representative of their nation. Then we collectively prayed for all the nations, for God’s blessings to be upon them, for there to be peace in them and for God to give their leaders wisdom to rule their countries well. After the service, there was a buffet of various African dishes such as beef stew, puff puff, dodo, fried rice, jollof rice, spinach stew, fufu, peanut soup and many more. We ate to our hearts’ content! It was wonderful to come together and display our various beautiful and colorful attires and cultures. It showed that we are proud of our roots and though we are from different countries in Africa and far away from home, we still celebrate and hold fast to our customs, cultures and African heritage.

Settling into the routine of classes at James Madison University

James Madison University in the USA

Studying at James Madison University

On the first day of any class, the typical college student’s goal is to get a feel of whether she/he will enjoy and understand the class, to gauge the level of difficulty (and work) involved  in the class and to evaluate the professor’s personality and methodology. This may take more than one class meeting. Being in the third week of classes, by now, most students have finalized adjustments to their schedules.  The deadline for adding and dropping classes (September 3rd) has passed and the Fall 2013 semester at James Madison University has started in earnest.

My classes and extracurricular activities have definitely been keeping me on my toes. According to The Free Dictionary, to keep somebody on their toes means “to force someone to continue giving all their attention and energy to what they are doing”. For some reason, it’s taken me a while to acknowledge that the summer break is long over and the time to work has come. I’m in a class right now where I felt we were simply “studying the syllabus” for two weeks. I thought, “Wow! This seems like quite an easy going, slow-paced class!” In reality, we’ve gone over three chapters and I have a quiz due this week, which I haven’t begun to study for!!! Now, we all know not to do this, yet we cannot help but fall into the deceptive trap of procrastinating. For me, it’s that notion that “school has only just begun”, “I want to hang out with my friends”, “there are so many fun activities to partake in”, “I still have time”, etc. Whether it’s assigned readings, homework, revision or mini quizzes, I personally find myself completely unmotivated to keep up with schoolwork until it is absolutely the last minute! Then of course, I panic, frantically trying to “shove information down my throat” so as to get an A. If I don’t get an A, I will be disappointed; yet I know what I need to do to get it and feel unwilling to do it.

I believe we all struggle with this. It’s a matter of discipline, setting priorities, managing time wisely and being willing to work hard. It’s important to get involved with various organizations and extracurricular activities, but your academic performance comes first. I’ve had to miss a couple of activities that I attend on a regular basis so I can stay in my room and study. To get the best results, you need to be willing to put in your best efforts. Trust me, the hard work pays off in the end!

 

Summer at James Madison University

For me this summer was the first semester in such beautiful place as James Madison University. What I could noticed from the first glance is that this is really relaxing time, on the one hand. On the other, side, it is time when you may work hard to gain credits. Also, the good thing about summer semester is that last just 12 weeks; for 4 weeks less than the regular semester. In addition, if you like to be in a quiet atmosphere, this is a perfect time! Due to significantly less students are taking classes during summer, campus seems empty: library, buses, Starbucks – everything! Not just campus the whole town looks like a ghost town. In the very beginning, everything seemed so weird. I grow up in the big city where everybody was rushing 24 hours all the week long, and in Harrisonburg everything was so quiet and peaceful.

As I said before it was pretty quiet but even then life in JMU did not stop. There were a lot of events that you could attend. Not as much as during fall, but still you would not be bored. Just take as an example camping that Office of International Programs has organized. For me it was incredible experience since I have never ever did it before.

However, understanding that it is adorable place came a little bit later. When I just came here I was so stressed, the reason for that is fear that I will be out of university life. The main goal for me was not just stay at my room with closed door all the time. Frankly saying, I did it for the first one or two weeks of my staying at the university. But then I accumulated all of my energy and went out of my little world that was bounded by four walls. And guess what, I discovered the whole bunch of new things that were happening around me.

Right now it is my second and last semester in International Study Center, however, I had opportunity to pick JMU class, where during lecture you will see about 120 students; comparing with 15-20 students in ISC. Honestly, I was shocked but it is a really good experience, from my point view.

Overall, it can be stated that this summer was the best summer that I ever had in my life! In my opinion, it is a bit strange time to start classes, but it is the best time for that. With the beginning of the fall semester it is really easy to get lost with this enormously huge amount of students.

Progressing to my sophomore year at James Madison University

For students at the James Madison University International Study Center (ISC), summer semester is 12 weeks and we can complete up to 15 credits. We are required to attend classes in the summer. On one hand, a lot of students felt disappointed that we only had three weeks of summer break, but on the other, we were able to make a lot of progress and complete a semester’s worth of  school work.

When the Spring semester ended, most students went back to their families to spend their vacation with them. The JMU campus and Harrisonburg in general looked like a ghost town. For me, that was wonderful! When I first came in the Spring semester, I constantly felt really stressed and struggled to adjust to the American college life system. I was often painfully self-conscious, hoping I wasn’t doing, saying or even wearing anything inappropriate. But while going for classes over the summer, there were very few people around, so I felt peaceful and content, and a lot more confident and comfortable. The weather was beautiful on most days, and because the operating buses for the summer were few and somewhat far between, I would often walk back to my apartment off campus after classes.

Summer break was a reflective period for me. I came to the U.S. with an incorrect mindset about how various things would be and that really threw me off balance, so I was determined to prepare especially mentally for the new school year. I spent the first week in my apartment, reading my bible and other books, singing and listening to music. The next week, I went with the James Madison University debate team to Hico, West Virginia for a work week. It was an introduction to policy debate, of which I have no experience in. All the information coming at me was overwhelming at first and I had a sinking what-have-I-gotten-myself-into feeling in my stomach, but I’m getting the hang of it and learning a lot. My last week I spent preparing for school, buying the necessary supplies and whatnot.

On the first day of school, it dawned on me that I no longer was a stranger to the James Madison University campus. I kept running into people I knew and had missed over the summer. The day was filled with squeals, hugs and anticipated reunions. I was very familiar with where I was and where I was going, unlike my first semester. In fact, I was often asked by freshmen and transfer students the way to a particular hall or building, and I proudly pointed the way!

Making my portfolio presentation at the International Study Center

I completed my International Fist Year at the ISC over the summer, so now I’ve moved to full-time sophomore classes at James Madison University. A typical ISC class would have 22 students, but now I’m in some classes with over 100! They aren’t as intimidating as I anticipated, though it’s understandably harder to speak up. In almost all of my classes, I am the only international student, but that doesn’t stop me from speaking up if I feel I have a beneficial contribution to make. At JMU, diversity is appreciated, so don’t worry that your English isn’t good enough or that you have an unusual accent; participate!

Things international student should know about studying in the USA

Being aware from the beginning can save one from many things. There are many things international students don’t know about when they first come here and I think knowing these stuff would be really beneficial in the short and long run.


I wish I knew….

I wish i knew about Undergraduate Research opportunities earlier. It is better to start research earlier because professors want students who can stay many years and research gets more interesting as you stay longer.

I wish I knew about Rebtel phone service. At first it wasn’t easy to communicate with my family in Africa, because it was expensive to call there. But later on I found out about a cheap phone service for International calls (Rebtel) and since then I am hooked to it.
I wish i knew about scholarship opportunities. Before coming to the US, it would be really wise to look for scholarships especially private scholarships (see link for different types of scholarships http://jmuiscblog.com/how-to-get-a-scholarship-as-an-international-student-in-america/). At first I didn’t know international students could apply for scholarships but if i knew that i would have spent more time looking for it before coming here.

I wish I had brought more stuff from back home (bracelet, snacks, food, clothes etc…). “You don’t know how much you love something until you lose it” . Before coming to the US for a long stay, it would be nice to bring a lot of souvenirs from back home especially when we can’t go home during breaks.

I wish i knew about more job opportunities on campus.It’s true that international students cannot work outside of campus but on campus we are all in the same boat. Moreover getting a job allows us to get a social security card which opens even more doors in America.
I wish i knew about the importance of on campus organizations. Joining an organization is not a waste of time. On the contrary, it’s a way to have access to some information that we wouldn’t know where to look. It’s a way to get involved in the community.


Things that one should know…

Freshman year we usually live on campus so we are not concerned about the struggle to find a place yet. Many students complain about their off campus place during sophomore year because they were in a rush and had to make a quick decision. If we plan to live off campus, we should look for places 9 months in advance because apartments fill up really fast.

In America people like to have their own space. Most people are not really touchy here. Having that in mind before coming here saves us from causing discomfort in people. In my culture people are really touchy when they talk so over there it is more common to see it happen.

In America people usually do not to talk about people’s appearance even as a joke in order to avoid offending or hurting the other person’s emotions because some people are really self conscious.

In America especially at JMU it is expected to hold doors for the person walking behind you. At JMU it is even impolite not to do it.

In Africa people have the tendency to say yes when they are asked about something even when they cant do it because they don’t want to be seen as weak. When you come to the US with that mentality you are going to suffer a lot because people will put their hope in you and give you more responsibilities than you can so you have to be realistic before engaging and consider his own capabilities when it comes to that.

Some helpful notes…

In America you always need to have money on you or money in your savings. You will always need money. There are always some expenses to make so it’s better to be ready.

One important thing about America is that from the day you step on the American soil, you have to take your initiatives and be autonomous because here everybody is busy and nobody has the time to guide you step by step so you have to look for it and be dynamic.

Freshman year is the year to knock yourself out getting the best GPA you can. It is the easiest semester so getting a 4.0 GPA isn’t unrealistic. Doing good during freshman year may give us the opportunity to get an invitation in the honors program or be eligible for some jobs on campus such as tutoring or Teaching Assistant.

I wish i was more cautious with the diet. We may not realize it until we see it on the scale. When we come to University we get so busy with school work and we stress so much that we gain a lot of weight. In JMU we are even more vulnerable to a weight gain because our on campus food is irresistible (#5 campus food in the Nation!)

Be really careful when you receive random emails or calls not to give away your information like that because identity thief does occur here.

Living in the US can be challenging for some people. Getting to know your environment first can bring a completely different experience and make your stay more enjoyable. I found out about most of these stuff my freshman year because i was curious and I reached people. That’s why i said it’s important to socialize freshman year otherwise we may miss a lot of opportunities.

Summer break in University

Summer for some people means having fun: beach, trips, family. For some other people summer is the time they finally got time to do real stuff like planning their career, doing internships, study abroad etc...

As a 3rd year student, I would say it’s imperative to do something productive during summer. The summer of junior year is basically the last summer of freedom we have because after that real stuff start: Summer of senior year, we will be too busy applying for jobs/internships so there is no time to put energy into something else and after that things get even busier. A lot students mistakenly think that after graduating from University life gets easier.

There are many different options that one can do in preparing the future or adding a new stuff to the resume:

-James Madison University and many other universities have a special 3 months research during summer (diverse fields), the REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates). Students get paid for it so it’s a great experience.

-For Medical schools, summer of Junior Year is the time to submit applications so right after graduating, one can just matriculate in a medical school, otherwise the person needs to take a year off.

-Start considering looking for jobs in advance and plan it because when school starts we will be too busy to look into it.

-Summer paid or unpaid internships. In the US it is really common to see students travel to different States during summer in order to do an internship. For international students like us, we can only work for the University we attend but we can volunteer almost anywhere.

It is not as obvious for us international students to stay in the USA during summer especially when our parents do not live in the States. During summer, programs that last the whole 3 months of summer are usually not our first choice because that’s the time we go home to visit parents. To make up for this, we can also work/intern at home because experience is experience no matter where and in America people who have experience in other countries are really appreciated.

Internship for Med school in MaliThis summer in Africa, while I am in vacation in Mali, I decided to do an internship in a public hospital. This time I work in the cardiology department. We do the general examination(blood pressure, temperature and  quick body examination) before having the doctor check the patient. It’s a great experience so far. I like the people that I work with and I learn a lot in the medical field.

The medical system is completely different: in America, a developped country people use top notch technology whereas in Mali, people still use old equipments and don’t have access yet to the new technology. I think knowing a little bit of both(modern equipment and the old way of doing things) is really beneficial and gives a more complete understanding  by making one a well rounded person.

Getting  to see my family and friends from childhood was what I needed. I have lot of friends who didn’t get the chance to have access to long education or are not successful and seeing them reminded me of the reality of life that everybody is vulnerable to failure. They were all really proud to know that I am doing well in the States and they made a lot of blessings for me.

It’s a good mental preparation before Senior Year!