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Student Profile: Darina Olefirenko

How did you choose VIU and when did you come here?

My decision to study in the USA was made about 4 years ago when I came to the Untied States for the first time as an exchange student.  The USA has always attracted me by its diversity of cultures and tolerance towards them. People here see your personality first. I choose VIU out of a number of institutions for several reasons: it is affordable, we are located in a beautiful suburb of Washington, DC, and the university has excellent teaching coupled with personalized study programs and individual attention.

How was your first impression studying at VIU, in the USA? What is your favorite memory at VIU?

The university and the city where VIU is located are wonderful.Fairfax is a safe, quiet city with a good pace of life. Everyone here is friendly and approachable. Also, if you get tired of suburban life, Washington, DC is only 20 minutes away!  Also, you can get to New York City from Fairfax in 4 hours.

How often do you participate in VIU activities?

VIU is much more than lectures, study sessions and tests. Beyond the classroom walls there are innumerable activities where students get a chance to develop leadership skills and community spirit. You will always find something which suits your interests. If you can’t find it, you can set up and develop your own club or any other extracurricular activity!

What have you been learning from your peers as well as professors?

I never feel lonely at VIU, and that is so important for me as an international student! There is no doubt that I can always count on support and encouragement from VIU team members. It is amazing how our professors deal with student diversity. They always have time for each of us with great patience.
Being an MA in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) student, I am glad to study together with students from Thailand, Egypt, Vietnam, Korea, Pakistan, Turkey, and Brazil. Our experiences are so different and it is priceless that our classroom size allows everyone to share and be heard.

How many opportunities have you seen while studying and living in the USA?

VIU is a fabulous place where students are able to discover and accomplish their dreams. I was given the opportunity to gain practical experience during my studies as an ESL instructor. I feel thankful beyond words about this opportunity. I am finally pursuing the career I've always wanted! I was also lucky to receive The Honors Academic Scholarship which helped me to reduce my expenses considerably.  I am thrilled to have the place and tools available to complete my goals.

What is your advice to your peers?

To all future VIU students I would say: America is closer than you think. Be ambitious! Don’t be afraid. It is easy if you try.


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