SSU of the Month: Mariya

image: Single Sisters in University

Interview Topic: Experience as an International Student

Sisters, meet Mariya, our international SSU student for this special edition. Mariya, a Ukrainian native, is an MBA graduate in International Business. She enjoys extreme sports like racing and skydiving, baking, and cooking. During our chat with Mariya, we talked about her experience as an international student in the United States and the lessons she’s learned so far.

Why did you decide to study in America?
I decided to study in America because I heard great things from people/friends about this country and having traveled to the States before I felt more at ease, so the States was obviously my first choice.

What challenges were you faced with upon arrival to the States?
I used to travel all over Europe as a young athlete, so I was used to be being away from my country. I think the greatest challenge in the States was being away from my family for a long period of time. For the first few months, I didn’t have friend or know anybody, so it was very lonely too.

What do you like about being an international student?
I like everything about being an international student. At the international university I attended, I got to interact with many other international students who exposed me to a greater diversity.We learned together and could easily relate to each other due to our experience in the States; this contributed a lot to my personality. Additionally, studying in English pushed me to work harder.

What advice would you give to someone interested in studying abroad?
Be open because people are different. Be open to other people’s different lifestyle, way of thinking, etc. As you come in contact with individuals from different cultures, you need to understand that they will not always behave the way you expect them to, hence, you have to be respectful, patient, and flexible with them. Also, be strong as you will face many challenges.

What role did your faith play during your journey as an international student?
Faith played an important role. I always turn to God because He is with me. He is my strength, the One that helps me carry out whatever activity I want to be involved in. There were so many situations in my journey when I thought there was no way out but God always delivered me: He’s my daily support. Also, knowing that my parents had faith in me when they sent me here encourages me to work hard and believe that I can succeed. I think without faith, I would never be where I am today.

How does being an international student helped you mature in life?
You grow tremendously as an international student, I think the growth I have attained over the four almost five years I have been here would have taken me about ten years if I was back home. You grow spiritually, personally, professionally, etc. I changed for the best because I learned that the decisions I take today would affect my tomorrow. It gave me wisdom in choosing friends, learning to trust, and much more. It’s just been tremendous!

You just touched a bit on the next question. Do you think you could have achieved the same level of maturity if you were a student back home? Your answer to that obviously is ‘no’, can you elaborate more?
If I were still in my home country, I would never be able to ‘escape’ my parents’ help because they are always willing to lend a hand. However, being here has forced me to become responsible. There is no one here to guide me or tell me what to do, so I know that I have be more careful in the decisions I take.

How have you been able to stay strong over the years as an international student?
I think first of all, the States is not for everybody. I have seen a lot of students come here, be overwhelmed, give up, and return home. Being here requires one to be extra strong. I always turn to God to give me that strength I need to go on and I remember the faith that my parents have in me that I can do it. I’m also motivated by the people around me that have been able to make it in this country: I know that if they were able to do it, I can too.

As we are winding down this chat, can you offer a few encouraging words to current international SSU students?
FAITH: always believe in what you want to be and that you will get there. It might take years to happen but it will eventually happen. Be very strong because without faith, nothing will happen. You need a purpose in life, a destination of where you want to be, otherwise, you are just existing but not living. Faith will help you overlook the obstacles you face and get you to your destination.

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