I am so glad that I have gotten this chance to write about my experience in the United States. Well, it has been almost two years for me in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Though I have to work very hard, I enjoy living and studying in New Mexico State University (NMSU).Before my story begins, let me tell you a bit about New Mexico as not many Indonesians even realize that it is part of the United States of America. New Mexico borders with three other states-Colorado-Arizona-Utah, and shares an international border with Mexico. It is the 5th largest state and has more cattle than human being. The people are so friendly, and really proud with their pecan and Chile. It is a very dry area, and the raindrops is usually only about 15 minutes. You don’t need to use an umbrella. If you do, people will notice that you’re a new comer in the state. I love staying here because the weather is warm and not extreme like in other states.My major is Agriculture Economic and Agriculture Business, but my study in the state started with ESL courses in the summer. I was so happy to find that the professors here are very creative with their teaching methods. One of the professors even used drama and games which made learning English more fun! In that semester, I had difficulty to adjust, yet so much fun at the same time. 98% of my classmates were from Ecuador. At the beginning it was hard to make friends, but at the end of that semester, we became very close. They taught me how to make ceviche and some Spanish words. I am so glad I met so many good friends like them in my first semester.To help me cope with the language barrier, I asked the professors permission to record the lecture, and also talked to them outside of the class just to make confirmation about my understanding in the class. Recording a lecture was somewhat helpful, yet it was a double work. Some of my professors were so kind. They not only help me with the material outside the class, but also let me borrow their additional textbook for the whole semester. I learned something about time management at the following semester. I took 12 credits (or 4 classes), thinking that it must be easy, just like in Indonesia, yet later I found myself feeling overwhelm with so many assignments and daily quizzes. It was a tough semester! However, I could pass that semester just fine with extra hard work. Learning from this experience, I reduced my class into 9 credits at the following semester so that I could better manage my study.
Joining a study group is also helpful. Even though I am kind of an introverted person, I like to make friends and tend to be too friendly (I would say). I had some friends who were willing to share their last year note for the class I took the semester after. Asking for old notes and last year’s exam from friends who took the same class with the same professor was also kind of a helpful. It is because sometimes the professor uses the same questions as the previous year. Sometimes.My friend from church said that I am pretty much international :), because I know almost every international student in NMSU. I attended some bible groups, did a couple of voluntary activities at the church and took part as a tour guide at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum. I like to cook Indonesian food and invite my international and American friends to hang out in my apartment. It was always a good moment that we shared experience or only have some fun. My motto is people around you are your family. They can give you hands if you are in need and miles away from home. A quote from Mother Teresa: “Let us make one point, that we meet each other with a smile, when it is difficult to smile. Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family”. Well, in this case my family are international students, my church friends and families and everybody surround me, and I love them. :).Currently, I’m preparing my final project. I am grateful that my adviser and major professor are so patient and helpful in order for me to succeed with my project. All my academic experiences, worldwide friendship inside or outside the campus in the United States are the most precious experience in my life, and it would not happen without USAID PRESTASI Scholarship. It has shaped my life so much with so many processes, and I thank God about it. I really appreciate your tremendous support, may God bless you all abundantly!Las Cruces-New Mexico, April 2015
Warm regards,Erly Victoria Kueain