SCAWAB STORY – YOU ARE NOT ALONE
October 30, 2019
Hard decision … But necessary ….
For me, the hardest decision was to leave my country. I am originally from small country in Europe and at that time I had my well paid job, I had my momentary stability, I had my friends, my country and, to be honest, it seemed like I did not have the reason to leave. My English was not the best. I was very active in my community, I travelled a lot and was exposed to a fantastic learning opportunities, I was happy. At that time, I really had it all. And not just that, but I also was attending a masters program from prestige European university that was fully funded (lucky!).
But you get to think about the future. If you are to be 10 years older, would you be able to work the same hours, would you be able to have the same job stability, would you have the same rights and would you be paid fairly. As a woman, think about how would you be treated at your work if you have children and husband and you are not that available any more to do long hours. Anyway ….
In my journey of coming abroad, I was lucky. I met my future host-mother at one of international conferences (by the way those are always good to attend). She was a USA professor in her mid 50s. She was interested in my story, she was interested in my work, she was interested in my life. She always wanted to know more and more and we were becoming friends. Next thing, she asked me to visit USA where I went for 3 months of professionalization. At that time, I still did not know I will end up there one day. I was doing my presentation, I was in local newspapers as people were impressed with my projects back home, I volunteered and I was meeting people all over the place. People got to like me and really wanted me at University of Minnesota. All I had to do was to apply. And I did not apply by myself, I had somebody to help me as, looking back now, I didn’t have a clue about application process and what would be the right words. While I was waiting for my approval, I was trying to see what I needed for visa. I started collecting documents, translating documents, collecting money for ticket. It took me about a year and half to two years from the time I started the process till the time I moved to USA. If I have some advice for you, these are the ones:
- MEET PEOPLE, CONNECT, NETWORK, CONNECT AGAIN. Be out there!
- Do not just ask to be given (“give me give me”). Also offer your skills to people and be a part of community (local, global, any community). If you just sit and wait for miracle, it will not happen. Try to impress your future professors.
- Start planning early, do not do things in the last minute. Do whatever you can when you can to avoid later financial and time stress. Translate slowly documents one by one (diplomas, references, job letters), assess what you need to visa and start to prepare
- Ask for help. Ask people you trust to check your application. Make sure grammar is ok and the language is professional. These things matter.
- This process is lengthy and requires time, patience, and good planning
- Be simply a good person. It really matters …
International Student from Europe
University of Minnesota