March 13, 2019
In my hometown of Moscow, Russia I had lots of friends. I didn’t even have enough time to meet everyone but everything changed after my move to the U.S.
I wanted to learn the English language and get an international education, so I thought about moving to another country. In the year of 2013, I finished my studies in Moscow and decided to pursue academic studies in the U.S.
I had the desire to move much earlier, but I could not make up my mind on this because when I was 16, I was very dependent on my friends and family and I was scared to move to another country at such a young age.
As I looked into the process of studying in a different country, I learned about the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
Students who want to study in the U.S. first need to pass the TOEFL; I, however, did not have enough knowledge of the English language.
Though English was part of my curriculum in Russia, I knew I wasn’t prepared, so after reading a lot of forums about studying in America, I discovered the option of not having to take this exam.
I found out I could enroll in a language school that offers a course consisting of several levels of language, after which I could go to community college without having to take TOEFL.
I chose to go to language school rather than taking the exam, so I quickly applied to ELS Santa Monica school in February 2015.
Language schools in the United States are quite expensive for international students, especially those that provide the opportunity to go to community colleges without TOEFL.
I studied there for five months and every four weeks I would have to pay $1,800, including medical insurance.
However, this school gave me the certificate of completion that is accepted by more than 600 colleges and universities worldwide as proof of English language proficiency required for admission, according to the ELS website.
In March of the same year, I received the I-20 document, which is a document required for a student visa and in April, weeks before beginning school, I had arrived in Los Angeles.
The first day of school arrived, but it was very difficult to adapt because everyone spoke different languages.
Not being familiar with the English language made things awkward and difficult, but all the students and I were there for the same reason which was to learn the language and study in the U.S.
Being a shy person by nature, it became difficult to interact with others from different countries.
Not having my family and friends near me, became hard because I started to realize that I am alone; sometimes I started to doubt my choices and considered moving back home. I got depressed.
It was not comfortable for me to walk in parks or to eat alone in cafes. I was constantly feeling anxious.
This all changed when a boy from Japan, Kota, invited me to attend a house party after class. He studied with me in the same class and we often practiced our dialogues in English in the same group of students. After this practice, we could already speak fluently on the most simple topics.
The party became the start of many friendships going forward because I started to feel more comfortable with my peers, I even met people from my hometown.
Finally, thanks to intensive communication with friends, I lost my anxiety and was able to get away from my depression.
After completing the language school program I entered El Camino College and parted ways with the friends I made, as many of them went to colleges in other cities and even other states.
Coming to EC, I made new friends who also came from Moscow, and even live in my neighborhood.
My parents always try to visit me, or I fly to Russia on holidays.
Overall, I understood that in order to mitigate the culture shock and homesickness, one needs to get out of the comfort zone and communicate more with people, even if they are strangers.