This story originally appeared College Board International’s website.
Home country: Brazil
Currently attending: University of Iowa
Major: Computer science
Career aspirations: Game/App Developer
Graduation year: 2013
What made you want to study at a U.S. university?
I wanted to study in the U.S. because there are many universities with respected computer science programs. There are also a lot of job opportunities in the field, and I know that at some universities, top companies recruit students.
When Brazil announced a plan to provide $2 billion worth of science and technology scholarships through its Science Without Borders program, I was almost finished with university but decided to apply. Each semester, 500 students are chosen based on grades and given the opportunity to study for two academic years at universities in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Italy, and France, among others.
How did you research your university options?
I didn’t have to research because with the scholarship program, the government has agreements in place with universities, and the universities decide which applicants they will admit into their program. IIE (Institute of International Education) facilitates the application process and acts as a mediator between the federal sponsor and the universities. After you apply, the universities look at your GPA and extracurricular activities, and IIE lets you know which university has accepted you. I was chosen by the University of Iowa and accepted their offer.
How was it adjusting to a new country and university environment?
I never feared the (English) language and wasn’t concerned with not being able to communicate with anyone. But the thought of being alone and not having anyone to turn to worried me. I think it helped that I requested to have American roommates so I could learn more about the culture. I wanted the full experience, so I tried to avoid only staying with other Brazilian students.
What do you appreciate most about studying in the U.S.?
I like that in my classes your professors encourage you to be inventive and creative. Also, everything I would not get to do at home, I got to do here. I’ve taken courses ranging from an entrepreneurship class and an iPhone app class to break dancing and gymnastics.
What advice would you give to students in other countries wanting to study in the U.S.?
Study the language. Communication is really important. Also, plan ahead for what you want to do, and try to learn everything about the university you’re going to. I remember memorizing the campus map. You also have to know if you’re up to the challenge. Make sure you’re in sync with the university you’re applying to and know what they’re looking for.