An Interview by Ariunaa Dashtsogt
This interview features VIU student, Camilla Tashira. Camilla is from Brazil and has been studying for about a year at VIU. Camilla would like to continue her studies at VIU under the International Business Certificate Program. Camilla was very happy to talk, while we gained some perspective on her life. Likewise, I was happy to interview Camilla for “Student Voices”.
VIU: Camilla, since you began studying at VIU in January 2011, how much has your life changed?
CT: I have never actually thought about this. Obviously, many things have changed in my individual life … I believe that I have become stronger compared to who I was at the beginning. For example, my family always cooked and took care of me, but here everything was completely different from what I had before. When I came here, I was faced with uncomfortable situations, such as cultural shock. Though, despite any difficulty I faced when I arrived in the USA, today I am happy that I am experiencing student life in America. Living abroad is just amazing, now I have already learned such things as how to cook, spend money, and live independently. Moreover, the most important thing is that my mother is proud of me for studying at VIU, in the USA.
VIU: I am glad to hear this! Studying in America, do you find it important for students to improve their English levels in order to refine their experience?
CT: Here is the thing: first of all, I had studied five years of English, in Brazil. Unfortunately I did not learn anything! After I chose to attend VIU, my English language barrier is greatly changed. My first semester here, I took an Intermediate ESL class at VIU. Now I am studying in the College Prep level which is helping me to prepare myself for the Academic Level. In the beginning, I could not understand everything that people were saying in the classroom, on the streets, metro, and more. But now everything is totally different – I understand English so much better. Still, I know that my English needs some serious improvement, and it takes time. But I know that studying at VIU has really made a difference in my English skills. If I were in Brazil, I couldn’t speak and write as well as I do today. So, I am completely sure that people can gain competent knowledge from the amazing and powerful professors of VIU.
Secondly, I talk with my peers, instructors, and the others in only English. I mean, in the class, at home, and in the metro and bus I just speak, read, and watch everything in English. It has been worthwhile studying at VIU, I have gained much experience and refined my English. As a result, the experience that VIU students gain during their time here is unparalleled. VIU’s small class sizes allow professors to devote more individual attention to each student and make education more interactive by increasing student participation.
VIU: How did you choose VIU? Were there any special opportunities you received by choosing VIU?
CT: Brazil has many agencies of education affairs and they suggested that I take a look at VIU. Agency officials said that “Nowadays Brazilian students have been choosing VIU very often. There are many kinds of courses to choose from, including international business, marketing management, human resources,” and so on. They also pointed out that, “if you are unable to take the TOEFL exam, you can enroll in VIU’s ESL program before attending undergraduate and graduate programs. VIU has a five-level ESL programs beginning at the elementary level.” I was really happy to hear this, because at that time I had no TOEFL score.
Also, I liked VIU’s location, just minutes away from Washington, DC. This means students have great opportunities to gain experience through internships and employment in a variety of industries around the DC Metropolitan Area. I am satisfied with the school’s classrooms, atmosphere, location, and quality of curriculum and instructors.
VIU: Do like to study with the diversity students at VIU?
CT: VIU is a truly unique place where you can meet and become friends with students from 60 different countries. I have made many friends from all over the world, and we have had a good time. This allows students to broaden social networks while experiencing a multicultural environment all at once. VIU is devoted to delivering a warm atmosphere where students can feel at home. VIU students are very friendly, help each another, and know about the types of problems that will be faced by international students. I mean, we are all facing the same problems, such as missing family, culture shock, and adjusting to living in a new environment. If I studied in other, larger universities, I would meet more Americans, who may not care that I am an international student and couldn’t relate to the tough situations I face.
VIU: How do you travel to school? Have you had difficulty with transportation to and from VIU?
CT: Public transportation is very useful here. Students who live a little farther away from our University, might actually have their own car. I have faced no difficulties in transportation, because the bus always comes on time. I read that VIU is located in one of the safest and most tranquil places to reside in the United States. Like me, many of my peers have great opportunities to discover and learn about American history and cultures while visiting magnificent historical places and living in a healthy environment and use public transportation to do so. When you come here, you will feel and see it all, I promise you! Don’t forget that this is a big part of why you came to the United States!
VIU: What is your best memory of school? I mean, do you have any favorite stories from VIU?
CT: Yes, I do. Actually, VIU offers small-sized classes, which allow for individual attention between students and professors. Students have the opportunity to meet with academically qualified and professionally experienced professors in order to gain high-quality education. As I mentioned before, Brazilian students of VIU usually want to meet and have fun together. So, it takes me to memories in my country. For example, last month I went to a Brazilian party in DC. There people spoke Portuguese and danced to Brazilian music. It was almost like being home.
VIU: People might say that soccer is a symbol of Brazil. What else do you think defines your country?
CT: Yes. Our soccer team is very good! In addition to soccer, the Carnival is one of the famous symbols of Brazil. Everybody comes out to the streets for Carnival, which is held each year in February. Music is played and people dance the Samba. Even if things aren’t going well in their life, the Brazilian people like to smile and enjoys themselves. I think it’s a very important issue for our society.
VIU: What are your future plans?
CT: I know how the time flies. For example, I cannot believe that I have almost been here for a year already. I plan to go back Brazil when I graduate. After that, I want to come back to America to travel. I want to visit California and Florida.
VIU: Do you have any advice for the new and future students of VIU? Maybe they will gain important advice from you?
CT: I just want to say “Don’t forget why you came to America.” It is very important. Some people think ‘I came to the US, so now everything is fine.” Just keep studying and never give up. Try to learn new skills and focus on improving your English. If you face culture shock or any kind of difficult situations please share your feelings with one another, including me. Be strong and be responsible to yourself. Always remember your dreams and goals. The employees of VIU and students can help, understand, and support you while you are studying at VIU. You are not alone here!
VIU: Thank you so much for your time. I hope that students at VIU, even new and future students can gain some useful information from your experience!
CT: All of you enjoy your time for Christmas and New Year. I wish you success in your studies during your new semester. I wish all the best for everybody that belongs to VIU, and as I said: “Never give up!”