Undergraduates and graduates alike often go abroad before their respective graduation dates. Returning with stories of the nightlife of Europe’s clubs and the day trips through Egypt’s deserts, these students bring unique stories back to Atlanta. However, rarely does anyone hear of the international visitors to the school who bring stories of their trips to Tech, to Atlanta and to the U.S. For the Brit Timi Oresanya and the Singapore resident Natalie Teo, sharing Atlantan experiences while still in America was new.
Oresanya, a third-year EE major, is from University College London (UCL). He described London as not only rainy and cold, but also filled with lovely food and music.
His good friendship with an exchange student from the US in his first year at UCL motivated him to apply for an exchange student program.
He believes this experience at Tech to be an opportunity for him to immerse in the American culture.
“It’s turned out to be as much of a self discovery curve as much as anything,” Oresanya said.
He said studying at Tech is definitely more demanding than studying at UCL.
Oresanya said the workload at Tech was staggering, yet, he managed to get through it.
He mentioned academic rigor as his greatest challenge so far. He appreciated support from faculties and other staff that he believed students are expected to keep up.
The class sizes are a lot smaller than at UCL, so he felt that he is assessed relative to a smaller than ideal sample of students.
“Being here has helped me learn as much about myself as the ‘American way.’ I believe I’m an all-together better person and am better positioned to chase my dreams. The experience has undoubtedly added value to my degree and my life as a whole,” Oresanya said.
Teo, a journalism major, is an exchange student from Singapore. She is currently studying STAC and HTS at Tech.
She briefly introduced her home country. Singapore is a really tiny city-state in South East Asia that people often mistake as part of China. However, the truth is that while 75 percent of Singapore’s population is of Chinese origin, the country’s residents is predominantly from Malaysia and Indonesia.
Teo also clarified that fines and ban on chewing gum are true. She believes Singapore is a beautiful city that is small, cozy, clean and very well governed.
Teo said the experience in America is something she would like to tell her kids in the future.
“[I would tell them about how] I spent half a year in a culture radically different from the Asian one I’m accustomed to, and what it feels like to be away from home for so long,” Teo said.
Teo has participated in cheerleading, Takewondo, dragonboating and swimming. She is vegetarian for health and ethical reasons. She enjoys shopping so much that one of her biggest challenges is to stay off Amazon.
Teo has learned among many things how to fend for herself, be more street smart, cook decent food instead of eating instant dinners and how to take the Singaporean accent out of her speech when talking to local residents.
She said most of her classes are a joy, but some are a real pain.
“Classes are not difficult, but getting used to the system and deciphering the American accent take some work…the fact that there is continual assessment and not just one major paper at the end of the semester, which is a real bummer because I’m not used to constantly being assessed,” Teo said.
She recommended other students join the exchange student program.
“It is a whole lot of fun when you exercise some restraint and [don’t] go on crazy shopping sprees every week,” Teo said.
Teo said meeting new people is awesome, and classes are usually not what she would find in her home country.
For instance, her classes have made her learn so much more about American education system, government and even American poets.
Teo said she has achieved her own ultimate goal of the participation.
Teo made new friends, did crazy things, crossed states and also got closer with her family and friends back home. She said the distance actually made her talk more about her daily life to family and friends.