Tehetena from Ethiopia explains why she came to the U.S.
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Tehetena from Ethiopia explains why she came to the U.S.

Tehetena Mulugeta: A US education is considered
high quality, and you can pretty much do anything anywhere with a US degree. That’s probably
the first most decision that I based it on. The second decision the second factor that
influenced my decision was that I couldn’t really go to the rural areas, because if I
did, the only opportunity that I had was either staying the Addis Ababa University, which
is the main one in Addis, or to be assigned to other branches, which were in rural areas.
And being a person who grew up in Addis, it was just going to be too much to handle. Not
much of water, electricity. It’s just, it’s really still a developing country, so I didn’t
think I could handle that. So as soon as we got into high school, I decided, you know,
it was time to start the process of looking at other countries and other opportunities,
because I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue there. I had a classmate who told me that her brother
was studying in Australia, but after doing a little research, I didn’t really like it.
I didn’t like the idea of learning there because it was just going to be too much for me. I
didn’t have any family there. I just felt like it would be overwhelming. So I decided,
you know, the US, I have some family there. So if anything really happens, I might still
go see them or anything so it would be better. I just settled on the US. Yeah. Advice would be to start early. If you are
set on, ongoing out of your country to study abroad, just start as early as possible because
you’re gunna need to get your grades set up.You’re gunna need to have all your financial information
all in order. So just start as early as possible is the best advice I would give them. The first one was what kind of area was it
going to be? Is it going to be an area that’s going to be completely in the rural areas?
Are there, is there Diversity as well because you can’t just be the only international student.
You just need some international students to be there. So, you know, they’ve been through
the process. They’re going through the same things you are. So you need a place where
you feel like you belong and you need people where you just – a group that you feel a member
of. I also look at definitely affordability. That
was a major, major decision influence. You just need to see whether you’re to be able
afford paying throughout the whole four years or you’re just gunna settle on a community
college. If so, how long are you planning to study? You just you need to plan your degree
because obviously it’s going to be a lot of money, yeah. There are, they just started out, especially
for international students, they have the Rotary Burke one, which I just applied
for, hopefully I get it. It’s a, it’s a scholarship, and they just tell you, you need to be,
a resident of one of the campuses.They usually do Annandale or medical campus. So,
since I’m taking courses at the Annandale campus, I thought I would qualify. and they
also just need just recommendation letters, how high your GPA is, to tell, just tell them
about who you are and everything. Yeah. I currently work at the International Student
Office. I’m a receptionist here and it’s been, it’s been rewarding. You get to meet new students
every day. And they’re going through the same process I am, so sometimes it’s a question
I can actually help them with. I’ll help them out. I had an impression from a friend of mine
who had done it a year before. She told me that it was just gunna be fine and everything
was breezy and everything. But I am a person who’s just always nervous, so whatever is
in front of me Im always just like, OK am I going to be able to do this? Im second guessing
myself constantly. So I was really, really nervous until I went in and, the woman who
interviewed me she was actually very nice. She was helpful. She told me to just be calm
and go through the questions as calm as possible, and it will just be easy. And I though, Okay.
Alright. Sure. Whatever you say, but you know I was just really nervous because I really
wanted it to happen, so yeah. Talking to her took very little time. She
just needed to know basic information about me, where I was going, why I was choosing
that school, and just stuff about my parents. You know if he was going to be able to afford
paying. And I had to give her the bank statements where he was working. Just basic information
about my background, really. I know it’s not really easy to become because,
well, it’s the visa interview, but just you know, if, you are calm, you have all the information
you need, and it wouldn’t just fly out of your brain. And you wouldn’t be like okay,
I’m freezing now because I don’t know who my name is or what my birthday was. And you
just don’t want to panic there, so be calm. Remember you know, there are model questions
that they give you. You can ask either the counselor that you’re in contact with, or
they have it on the website as well. Just go through those model questions, have all
your documents prepared that way you can just hand it to them when they ask for it, and
you should be set. By the time I had the visa I only had a month
left to stay, because they wanted me to by, well, they gave it me in November and they
wanted me to leave my December. So, I, I mean I love my family and I just wanted to spend
as much time as possible with them because, you know, we grew up in such a big family.
Everyone, everyone knows everyone, everyone’s in everyone’s business. I just wanted to be,
you know, close with them; and I have a little sister and a little brother, and I just thought
omg I’m not gunna get to see them grow up. So I thought, this is it. Make up for lost
time and it was just mostly spending time with my family, my friends because I was,
I mean we were graduating and I wasn’t going to see them again. And To prepare for departure,
all I did was just really [laughs] really nothing. I just prepared all my documents,
pretty much. Packing-wise, I packed last minute, like a week before I had to leave. So [Laughs]
it didn’t really take that long, but just I got my documents in order because those
are the ones that they’re going to ask for when you come at the airport, because you’re
going to need to show your I-20, your passport, everything. You just need to have those in
a separate package where you won’t lose them. And just have them ready. Pictures were big, obviously, but I didn’t
want to carry a lot of things, so I didn’t bring any of you know these little keepsakes
that you have. I left most of there except a few select items. But, I left pretty much
everything there but food. I brought food because [laughs] I knew I would miss food
for a while. So I brought food with me, but I didn’t bring anything that you know, regulation
wise – yeah. They
have the orientation, that’s really mandatory.
They say that, and it’s really good that they do because you come and you meet all these
new students and you just feel like okay, I’m not alone. So this is actually a good
thing. And you make friends because they give you time to pair up and introduce yourselves,
where you’re from, and everything. And talking to these people you realize wait, I have something
in common with this person. And those friendships sometimes end up lasting. And it is a really
good thing. The orientation is very helpful and the International Student Office because
our counselors here are international themselves. Anka is from Romania and she’s very, very
helpful. And she understands what it’s like because she’s been through the same process.
So she wants us to be as comfortable as possible, so she just keeps putting us all together,
tell us you know, these are people that you want to know. And they’re just giving you
all the information that you need, so that you don’t fall out of status, how early you
need to register, your payments, everything. They, they try to provide as much information
as possible. So yeah, they’re very helpful. And school they have great activities for
you. They have the Student Activities Office, which with the list of the clubs that are
available. And you can join any club that you want to, whatever interests you. It could
be the chess club, it could be the math club, science club. If you want to strictly go academic,
then yeah. They have those too. But, I joined the international club, which is, which had
been inactive when we joined, but we started it up. Karima, who was an international student
and she wanted to get it back up again because she felt like we all needed to get together
and discuss anything, whatever it was. And we planned the International Film Festival,
which was wonderful because we screened international movies. We saw one with how it was in the
Muslim community, and how children, how they were raised, you know being told how they
had to wear these coverings and why it was essential and that it wasn’t just a statement,
that it has a meaning. And seeing that movie and discussing it afterwards with the faculty
member, it was great because students came. Everyone wanted to attend. It was a success.
We were surprised because we just planned it because we thought, okay, we need to, we
need to do something in this club, obviously, so let’s do something. That was the only reason
we did it. We didn’t think it would be such a hit. Afterwards, the club has gained momentum.
We’ve been successful so far. We also did the International Spring Festival where we
had all these countries represent themselves, bring out food. We had a huge potluck, and
it was great. It’s been great. And they have NOVA day too. And on NOVA Day, all the clubs
are there. They have rock climbing, they have caricature drawing, it’s amazing. I mean,
you, wow, it’s really great. it brings the whole campus together. Just not this campus,
everyone from around all six campuses, so it’s great. Yeah, it’s a great time.

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