US International Students (F-1)

Обложка Америка(2900x4640)Hello, hello youngsters! 🙂

Are you thinking about getting American degree and enrolling in American college? Great and just amazing! You are not alone – the half of the  planet is looking for the same! Another half already completed  their studies in America and is ready to share their experiences with you! So don’t waste your time – get the book on Amazon and fly!!!

For the benefit of admiring folks interested in becoming an F-1 International Students in United States we are publishing excerpt from the “International Students” chapter of the Half-American book. To check out entire section as well as other tips and recommendations please get the book on Amazon.

Dream Big. Dream America. Arrive Happy.

Ready to get educated? Then let’s say hi to American teacher 🙂

Little note about Community College

… Community colleges is probably the best choice for someone willing to learn English and simultaneously be able to relatively cheap and easily maintain legal status for the duration of the educational program (2-3 years). Attending school does not require much time and is relatively easy for those who had some foreign studies. The level of educational difficulty in US community college is rather low and close to that of high schools in developing countries. For Alex topics and problems covered in classes were simple – essentially he did not learn a lot of technical skills but merely improved English.

You may rightly note then that for Alex, with the bachelor degree, decision to enroll in a community college was an obvious step back. True, but recall his goal was not to get another degree but rather to remain legally in the country and look for a sponsoring job, learning English was a good side effect. On top of that he did not have money to afford more expensive University anyway. As you will see later this step will turn out to be a very favorable decision. Community college provides a great opportunity to meet new people. Think about who usually attends it and you will agree that they have advantage over more expensive institutions at least for someone like Alex. Typically students there are of various ages and generally are not very wealthy. This peculiarities mean community college students are less demanding, easy going and more open minded. Such advantage is especially useful for someone willing to meet new friends and, who knows, maybe even a future wife or husband.

Change of status

… Not aware of any of these arguments Alex contacted office of international students and found out what was needed to become an International Student. Understanding the risk of denial and spoiling his immigration records, he nonetheless decided to proceed with the status change and become International student in the local community college …

Alex having seen a lot of foreigners in the international admissions office began unconsciously thinking about their motivation. He saw many people changing status like he did, some just arrived in US from various and remote countries. Community college degree is not something particularly valuable on a global scale. In the hands of foreigner without experience and US work permit, it is almost useless. So why to pay so much and go through all this hassle? Alex did not know yet that only few of these international students who signed pile of papers of retiring back home, will actually return back home. And certainly he did not know of the America’s never ending hunger for fresh minds and strong traditional values …

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America needs immigrants

… US earned its melting pot reputation due to well-known historical reasons. Interestingly enough country continues to be able to swallow ever increasing number of immigrants. Surely it can be attributed to its wealth and relative stability and these are the perks that attract new immigrants like a magnet. But here the logical question comes up – apart from immigrants’ wishes the country itself nevertheless should have limits on its ability to welcome new people. From my first days in America I always wondered how and why it absorbs so many immigrants. Clearly there had to be some strong justification for this phenomena and I wanted to find an answer. Quite surprisingly the answer to this frequently asked question came from my personal experience and observation of other newcomers. To begin with if there were no need for immigrants, Alex and many other students would not be welcomed in the country and various programs sponsored by US government would not be in place either. Before jumping into conclusions let us take a look at some of the examples of every day American life …

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First day in American college and first aha moment

… Alex has been waiting for this day for last six months. He almost religiously believed that American education system is one of the best in the world and therefore decided to become an International student in America. Anyone willing to become a foreign scholar in US knows exactly what it takes to arrive at the first class in the American school. Thanking his parents, god and everyone else on the planet he was preparing thoroughly for his first day in American college. The following week on Monday morning super excited he left home a little earlier. Alex did not want to miss even a second of his first class in America.

And vuala – his long nurtured dream came true and with it a sobering revelation. First minutes of the class matched closely what he had seen in movies and marketing materials from study abroad programs. 

“Cool! I really like it and I wish my parents saw what I am spending my money on” – thought happily Alex. 

About 10 minutes later though his ideal image of the American education was broken apart without any hope of returning to the previous level. One Afro-American guy (that is how black people are often called in US which some people actually find quite strange given US’ proclaimed indiscrimination policy) walked in the room and without any excuse of being late sat close to Alex. So far so good. Then he put on his headphones and turned on music so loud that rest of the class could hear. Zero respect and attention to the lecture, students and to the teacher. When professor approached and asked him to pay attention he carelessly said:

“Sorry, can you repeat what you said”. Although music became less loud he nonetheless still failed to pay any attention to the class. Such ignorance and “don’t give a faq” attitude was in a striking contrast with the Alex’s high level of responsibility and motivation. 

“These kind of students upon graduation cannot be designing iPhones and space shuttles. This must be an exception” – thought puzzled Alex. What he did not know though, that this was not an exception but rather a characteristic feature of the American educational system with far going consequences for the whole society and Alex.

Now, for a moment, fast forward five years to the future when Alex started his graduate (post bachelor) studies in engineering department of the large public university. There too he observed an interesting and eye opening pattern. Out of 20 people in different classes on average there were around 5 American citizens, 6 permanent residents (nonamericans with green card) and rest were international students. So you can combine these two observations and make your own conclusions regarding the state of educational system in US.

Back to the community college. Alex later out of curiosity spoke several times to that guy with headphones and found out it was US government that paid for his school. Well, not exactly government as it turns out. Remember Alex was international student and had to pay on average about four times more than in-state residents. Now pause for a second and rethink – four times more than locals… That is a big difference and lot of money! Think about it for a moment and you will quickly realize that …. essentially Alex was paying for other three black guys with headphones. No wonder they did not care about the class. How could they be motivated to study and excel if someone from overseas pays for them anyway??? But then logically they should not be complaining that foreigners presumably are taking over their good jobs with high salaries. Sounds all fair, do you agree?

Here is a little larger view on this situation. Absolutely nothing prevents Americans to attend university and later secure high paying jobs. Absolutely nothing. If you are not convinced yet let’s take a look what Alex has to deal with while going to school in US. First, as already was mentioned, he has to pay four times more than locals. Second, Alex can work legally only on campus and only twenty hours per week (with pretty much minimum wage). Makes sense, since he has to pay for other guys with headphones and not to take good job from locals. Third, he is not eligible for any financial aid (including federal loans), and commercial banks are unlikely to lend money to International students either. Fourth,  stipends, awards and scholarships are extremely limited for foreign students – you need to be like an Einstein to get those.

Speaking about scholarships, after the first semester, having received all A’s, Alex set up an appointment with the academic adviser to apply, as he thought, for the well deserved scholarship. To his big frustration adviser almost burst laughing but politely smiled at his request and shortly said that there are no scholarships for international students, end of the conversation. Again, makes sense, if he gets a stipend then it is an American government who will really have to pay for the guys with headphones. Finally, in addition to normal homework load Alex had to spend extra time just to understand what the textbook and professor talked about during the lecture. Remember, English was not his first language. Note that all of these mentioned limitations on International students do not apply to the guy with headphones.

Now, I think, it is a good time to make few comments about speaking English as a second language (ESL). Cultural differences between countries surely impact the talking manner of people. Americans, historically self-centered and individualistic, tend to speak more aggressively compared to immigrants from more collectivistic countries. And don’t forget, they speak English as the native language. Anyway, nothing should bother you at all, just speak. One last note on the associated accent. Yes, it is true that some accents are more, as Americans like to say, sexy than others. But you should look at your accent as an advantage that sets you apart from the rest of the crowd, and never let it confuse you whatsoever. Never, you got this?

Back to Alex. These difficulties can be quite stressing for the person with a weak character and not everyone gets where s/he wants to arrive. “Swim or sink mother faqer” culture, as one local described American willingness to help others, can be depressing to many. But those who overcome these temporary obstacles emerge as a much stronger, confident and ready for a new challenges person. But what about those who could not adapt quickly and failed? Well, no one cares about them, literally no one. They let school make money out of them, help other students (with headphones) to pay for tuition and support US economy by renting apartments, buying cars and most importantly traveling and partying around. And then they go home with little needed diploma, zero money (or in debt), some pictures and memories for next month or so. This mechanism of the survival of fittest is what makes America strong and successful – only smart, ambitious and adaptable people get a ticket to pursue their future aspirations. But success is not guaranteed.

Education gap

… Those who came to US to study with foreign high school or college education have big advantage over local residents. This is because the level of difficulty in corresponding educational levels in US and other countries differs greatly. Good example is calculus and other fundamental sciences. When Chinese or Indian high school graduates meet their American counterparts in college, the immense gap becomes immediately obvious.  As a result some foreigners do not learn much new until they get to the last few years of the college.

This fact has another important implication. Few Americans prefer engineering and technical majors and graduation rate is rather low compared to foreign schools. Consequently, in American companies many technical jobs are held either by expats or permanent residents with strong foreign engineering background. As you can see this educational peculiarity creates constant demand for qualified foreign workers and opens opportunities for international students.

When discussing this topic with Americans I often hear response that you need to pursue what you like. I have no issues with that. But if someone changes his major three times (which is allowed in US schools) and ends up graduating with history degree, he or she will have lower salary than an engineer. That is obvious. Worst, these newborn historians may not find job at all but continues to blame foreigners for taking their jobs.

I believe I mentioned that earlier. If you compare composition of students in a graduate engineering and business programs the difference is striking. Many foreigners with few Americans in the engineering programs and exactly the opposite in the business program. So here again such highly skewed distribution of students creates a demand for foreigners with technical background. It results in a typical hierarchy seen in large US companies – many of engineers are foreigners with amusing accents, with leadership and management mostly comprised of white Americans …

iPhones and guys with headphones

Now let’s talk a bit more about the consequences of US demotivating educational model. On the larger scale this is more important than just ideal redistribution of funds from rich to poor by means of financial aid. Clearly with a deficient conventional training in college, graduates will not be capable to create any innovation or new technologies. Paradoxically exactly the opposite is observed – US continues to be one of the most innovative and wealthiest countries on the planet. I believe this is in a large extent due to selective immigration. People largely neglected in their countries flourish in US, change significantly and realize their talents in full power. Having attracted best people, US is able to create a perfect environment to explore and foster foreign talent. Take a look at major innovative companies and their founders. Steve Jobs of Apple, Elon Musk of Tesla and Sergei Brin of Google are just a few examples how immigrants or their descendants contributed to success of the country as whole. In fact, for those of you who like statistics, about 40% of Fortune 500 companies are founded by immigrants or their kids.

The bottom line is this. For US to preserve internal stability it needs to provide educational assistance to minorities (including guys with headphones), this is where international students can help with their inflated tuition fees. More importantly, to preserve its technological advantage it needs a constant influx of educated, talented and highly motivated young brains – again international students perfectly perform this function. And this leads once again to the argument that America needs immigrants just to stay competitive and agile.

Here is another thought on this subject. The relative ease of life in US has negative impact on the morale of its population, it deprives some young people from much needed motivation to study and discipline to work harder and pursue higher goals. This supports the conclusion that America has to have newcomers like Alex to simply avoid self-destruction from its riches and wealth, ensure its global competitiveness and ultimately to avoid falling just like a Roman Empire did …

Do you want to follow Alex in his trip to America, learn more about becoming International Student in America and his other wonderful adventures??? Of course – knowledge is power! Useful tips and recommendations never hurt anybody – so let’s get the book, America is waiting for you!

Dream Big. Dream America. Arrive Happy.

Get the book on Amazon

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Good luck my dear friends!


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