Written by: Isabella C R Mariani
Navigating in unknown waters is challenging. However, with the right guide and tools, you can open the horizons for future opportunities to experience things at all levels in your life. As an international student from Brazil, I started my new journey at Cuyahoga Community College in the fall of 2022 in the English as a Second Language program, also known as ESL, which is a program designed to provide speaking, listening, grammar, and writing classes to people who need to be more fluent in English before starting their major in college.
As a freshman at an American college, I felt excited and thrilled. Living in another culture with a different language, abroad from home, away from family and friends, with a small support system, and after a pandemic that changed people’s interactions and gave people so many doubts and uncertainties makes me fear this new phase in life and raises many questions in my mind, such as, “How will I learn another language in another language? Will I keep up with the class pace? Am I good enough to graduate from an American college?” Because I will not only need to learn the subjects but also overcome the language obstacles.
However, all those insecurities and doubts daily dissipated when I attended classes lectured by Professor Matthew Pierce. From there, I realized that I was not only efficiently learning English by talking to my classmates in the “coffee talks session” at the beginning of each class or being free to write in English about my personal experiences in the 15-minute writing.
As a result of his guidance, my ability to think, speak, write, and listen in English became more natural and not only a subject I must learn. In addition, he taught me how to study any subject and understand assignments and topics in the class using tools such as highlighters, index cards, and post-its more efficiently. For example, using orange for titles and blue for subtitles, labeling each color to represent a different meaning.
Moreover, Professor Pierce recommended taking advantage of many opportunities that Tri-C provides for the students, such as The Honors Program and the honors classes, in which he invited one of the professors of the Honors program to speak with the students, using the tutoring center and the Mandel Scholarship, of which I later became a member.
My first semester as an international student was a remarkable experience still reflected in my academic and personal life. The guidance, knowledge, understanding of how to use many instruments, and college services made navigating my educational journey in the United States more manageable and smoother.