International Student Perspective: Plymouth Feels Like Home

September 4th, 2013 by Tim

Plymouth Feels Like Home
by Leticia Tinoco Garcia, an MEd in Health Promotion student from Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil

My story to come and study in the US begins years ago. I’ve always wanted to try different things, experience different cultures, and be challenged to overcome my limits.

An unstable economy, inflation, and so on for a long time didn’t allow me to make long-term plans to study abroad, but over time, things changed and the idea of studying abroad seemed increasingly real.

Fortunately, the economy did not prevent my family from traveling. Travel, in my family, has always been the rule. Once a year, we traveled to Europe or to the USA. NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Orlando, Miami, Seattle, Minneapolis, Washington DC, New Orleans, Vegas—we traveled to all different regions, giving me the chance to experience the diversity of this country.

Working Toward a Dream
I started my nutrition course in 1999 and since my first year at college, I decided to save some money each month to be able to realize my dream of studying in the US. I was not sure how long it would take, but I would not give up. From 2003 when I graduated, I had three jobs, sometimes working until 11 pm and during the weekends.

With money being saved every month and the economy more stable, I knew it was time to find a course and college. After I traveled around the US, I was sure that the region of New England was the one I wanted. I started researching courses, tuition, and I wanted a course that was wider than the traditional Masters in Public Health; one that had a focus on Eating Disorders (since I worked with ED patients since 2004). During my research on the Internet I found Plymouth State and my first contact was in 2009. Okay, time to prepare myself, to improve my English, and make all financial forecasts. Besides, it was a big step in my life. My friends were getting married and having children and here am I, with a steady job for 10 years, dropping everything to study two years out? Wow!

After many plans, TOEFL tests, and English classes every day with a British tutor, I got the news that PSU had accepted me! My dream was about to become true! Other colleges to which I applied responded positively before, but deep down I expected the PSU ok. The answer came near Christmas, with my whole family together, including cousins who live outside of Brazil! It was time to pack up and leave for the challenge.

I came here in the middle of January; the winter temperatures were below freezing, which for a Brazilian is something extremely challenging because winter in Brazil is around 70 degrees!

Home Away From Home
My first contact with Plymouth was just perfect. People—all without exception—were very friendly and helpful. My parents were in town and everyone was super-friendly with them, too. The staff of the College of Graduate Studies and the Global Education Office were always very receptive and wanting to know if everything was okay and how my adaptation was going. After two months living and studying in another country, and in a city smaller than my neighborhood in Brazil, I feel completely adapted and at home.

A few months ago I had the news that my grandmother is very ill. Homesickness and the desire to be with my family was painful. But after a quick stop at Center for Global Engagement (CGE) and a short chat with Jane Barry, things calmed down. Every time we meet she asks how things are going and that is very important to me. I feel loved. I think that’s all the difference at PSU and Plymouth; I am not just a student but a human being, who may be missing family, but who has a safe place in CGE to talk and sometimes just a place to stop for a coffee!

Thanks to PSU for giving this unique and pleasurable experience to me. I still think that everything is a challenge: with each new paper that the professors assign I get anxious and nervous, but all the professors with whom I had class until now were understanding and made me believe that yes, I can do all the papers and assignments and not only that, I can do good work. I hope to apply everything I am learning here in my country and bring a bit of Plymouth back to the sometimes-chaotic life of Rio de Janeiro.

At the moment, Plymouth, feels like home to me! And I am very happy and fulfilled knowing I have made the right choice!