She says there are lots of international students at BU. About half of her friends are American, half are international, and since they’re all transitioning into college life and American life together, she doesn’t feel lonely at all.
“When I first saw snow I started screaming and embarrassed my friends,” she says. “I’m from Southeast China, right across from Taiwan and very close to Hong Kong, so the weather is similar to Hawaii’s, and there is no snow in the winter.”
She says she goes back to China every Christmas and summer and visits Hawaii occasionally as well. Though she plans to stay in the U.S. for a while to break into investment banking, she’s not sure that she wants to stay for very long. “When I ask myself if I want to stay in the U.S. for a long time or eventually live here, the answer is very unclear. Maybe it’s because my family and friends are still in China, and I don’t know if I want to leave them behind.”
At the moment though, she says she’s making the most of her opportunities in the U.S. “When I was in high school we were learning about the notion of the American Dream, and I really buy that. I think that it doesn’t really matter where you come from. As long as you try hard, you’ll achieve something.”
Jose de la Puente – Boston University School of Management
Jose de la Puente is also a rising junior at the Boston University School of Management, majoring in business administration and computer science. He is originally from Peru but lived in Ecuador before applying to schools in the United States.
“I was living in Ecuador, and I went to a German high school there. I was supposed to go to a German college, but I’d been to Germany a couple times for exchange programs and internships, and I’d been to the U.S. also, and to be honest, I liked the U.S. better,” de la Puente says. “I want to eventually get into finance, and I think getting an education in business in the U.S. is a better choice for that.”
He says he knew the move from Ecuador to Boston was going to be difficult, so he tried to make things as simple as he could, bringing as little as possible with him.
“I think I brought two suitcases of clothes and shoes, and I play guitar, so I had to bring my amp. So it was four items total. I had to buy a lot of clothes, especially winter clothes, since I come from a place that doesn’t sell clothes for winters like Boston’s.”
He compared his first impression of living in the United States to how movies portray the country, and though he was fluent in English when he arrived and passed an English language proficiency test before applying to schools, he says practicing a language is harder while abroad and that he improved tremendously after starting school.
“I think a lot of the professors know who the international students are. I remember one of my first weeks here, in one of my business lectures we were supposed to speak in front of the other students and talk about ourselves. I probably made a lot of grammar mistakes, and it did not come out as I would have liked, but the professor told the students that I was an international student and tried to make them feel how I was feeling, explaining how much harder it was for me and asking if they would have been able to stand up in a lecture hall and present to people in a different language.”
He says his professors were very understanding in the beginning when it came to grading papers, but since one of the purposes of business school is to advance students’ writing, they got pickier as time went on.
“They try to ease you into it, and also during those first two months of college you don’t know anyone, and no one knows anyone, so everyone is open-minded and friendly – I think that’s one of the best things I’ve experienced here. I know if I had stayed home, I would probably have kept hanging out with my high school friends instead of meeting new people.