Advice from Alumni

The new year ushers in the arrival of new Global UGRAD participants for the spring semester. Participants consider so many important things as they begin their program, from scheduling classes to budgeting money to managing time. Who better to share advice on navigating this transition than Global UGRAD alumni?

Minh Thu Nguyen experienced snow for the first time during her UGRAD semester in Michigan

Minh Thu Nguyen | Vietnam | Northern Michigan University | Fall 2022

“One way for you to enjoy your time in the United States is not to rush; do not feel fear of missing out. Live your life at your own pace. You will need time to adjust to the new environment, but once you get used to it, it will bring you more joy than you can ever imagine. Do not feel like you need to travel everywhere to know the United States or to understand what it is like to live in the U.S. You can just stay in your dorm, read books, or take a walk downtown and enjoy the scenery. Every UGRAD has their own amazing U.S. life. I hope you have a wonderful and unique one too!”

Maria Siri | Dominican Republic | Mercyhurst University | Spring 2023

“I recommend seeking advice from classmates to overcome challenges in adapting to the U.S. education system; contrary to appearances, they are genuinely kind. Additionally, engage in activities with other UGRADs; they’ll become your invaluable support system, and you’ll grow to appreciate their unique personalities, fostering memorable experiences together. Here’s a pro tip: consider getting a flag from your country if you haven’t already—it adds a personal touch and serves as a perfect symbol of presence and representation.”

Emmanuel Tanya Nyabadza hiked near his host campus in Upstate New York.

Emmanuel Tanya Nyabadza | Zimbabwe | SUNY Plattsburgh | Fall 2022

“Plan your weekly classes wisely. If you can keep your Fridays and Mondays as free as possible, it will allow you time to do your necessary assignments, explore your town, do your community service hours, or even travel once in a while. Learn about the town you’re in, meet people, socialize, and network. Speak with your professors; they would be happy to connect with an interested individual who comes from a place they don’t know very much about. When in class, don’t be afraid to participate and ask questions. Even if your English is not as good as you want it to be, it’ll only improve. Lastly, have fun whilst remembering why you’re there.”

Alejandro Romero | Honduras | University of St. Thomas | Fall 2022

“Being open to discovering who and what’s around you is key to fully enjoying the Global UGRAD experience. Talk to your classmates, teachers, roommates, bus drivers, cafeteria employees, library staff, and so on. You never know what amazing connections can be formed from those little interactions. Go out and walk around campus, get to know the town/city you’re in, and look out for those sweet nature spots that will steal your heart. This is an academic program, so do as best as you can in your classes, but don’t forget it is also a cultural exchange program. Have as much fun and try as many things as you can.”

Ibtihal Ben Said (middle) attended International Prom with friends at University of Alabama.

Ibtihal Ben Said | Morocco | University of Alabama | Spring 2023

“For budget and time, there are many things that a person can do in the U.S., so prepare a bucket list with your top priorities. Check for international family associations through your host institution (the ones where you get in touch with an American family and do activities with them); this will be a great opportunity to be exposed to the American family lifestyle. Join different clubs and associations and attend events on campus; they are great opportunities to connect with new people. Go out and do something because that’s what makes it special!”