Is going to school in the US different from going to school in any other country? In our Mythbusters series, Yeng Kerng (Cal Poly ‘18) shares about his experiences furthering his studies in the land of the free.
The United States of America – land of the free and home to an increasing populace of international students. With over four thousand universities to boast, the US remains the world’s leading destination for international students. Yet, despite all the praise we hear, there seems to be a lack of interest toward studying in the US amongst Malaysian students.
The most common question I get about the U.S. of A is regarding my studies, or rather, about how studying in the U.S. is different from studying in other countries. I’ll start by pointing out the obvious: Education in the U.S. isn’t purely academic. Academics is without a doubt one of the biggest factors that comes with your degree, but what really sets the U.S. apart from other countries I would say, is the diversity you experience. The U.S. is literally a huge melting point of cultures and ethnicities; in no other place would you be in a room with Caucasians and Latinos sharing a bowl of kimchi made by Indians.
Another important thing to note is that you may have to take classes outside of your major. Engineering majors like me are still subjected to taking history and psychology classes. One of the biggest aspects of the U.S education system is to build character and develop life skills; these classes are there to help you apply subtle but vital life skills in your degree. Remember, education is 20% information, 30% ingenuity and 50% getting the ingenuity to work with the information.
Of course, going to university in a different country may be daunting. For example, Cal Poly is mainly made up of caucasians, so unlike some other schools in California, Asians are a minority here. Having said that, I was very well received when I first came and was integrated into the college within the first few days. Americans that I’ve dealt with are definitely more upfront and personal, which was a welcoming change from the more timid Malaysian persona.
Whatever your reasons may be and wherever you may go, studying abroad is an experience unlike any other. Take this opportunity to travel the world and learn about new cultures, and let the experiences shape your life completely. Also, should you visit California, please let me know – I’ll bring you to In and Out (a famous burger place)!