Igor Gonzalez, 20, is originally from Brazil. These days, he is far from home but at a place he is quick to describe as his new “home away from home”: Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC).
Time passes by too quickly here for Gonzalez, who is realising his dream to study abroad and play football at the same time. Next, he has plans to progress to a four-year university and work in the US. For now, he’s relishing his experience here as an international student in the US. We caught up with him via email to talk about the highs, the lows and everything in between about his time at this community college:
Why did you choose to pursue your course at PHCC?
I chose Business Administration for the marketplace that this area in the US offers, for the experience I have being an international student at community college, and for the professional growth that I can have in the future.
Additionally, I chose PHCC for the opportunity to play football in the US and complete the degree when I transfer to a four-year university.
Do you think it would have made a difference if you studied at a local community college?
Most definitely, the experience would be totally different. Here in the US, I am living a totally new life with different people, cultures and languages. If I was still in Brazil, I would be in community college but not studying something I like and I wouldn’t be playing football either.
Aside from community college, what do you like most about the US?
What I like most about the US is that I started my life here from scratch. I had to adapt to almost everything here. Even football is different than it is back home. This, for me, is the best part of having to come live and study abroad.
Do you have any fond memories with teachers at PHCC that stood out for you?
Yes, with my first English teacher at community college. Classes with her made a huge difference to me because it was my first class at an American college. When she found out I was an international student, she helped me with practically everything.
She helped me with some of the books for my other classes. She always asked me if I understood everything in class, and she always asked how I was doing, in case I needed any further help or support.
What is the support that PHCC has given you during this time with COVID-19?
PHCC has been very attentive since the beginning of this pandemic. All the staff in this community college are on board to give you any support you need during these tough times away from our families. The college even presented us with some care packages.
What are your academic goals in your Business Administration course?
My academic goals are to get my associate’s degree at this community college, transfer to a good university, and then from there be able to enter the job market. I believe the skills I gained are mainly learning a new language, time management, teamwork, and leadership.
What is one thing you miss from home and how do you substitute it?
One of the things I miss most about home is my family. try to substitute this by always talking to them by phone or video call. One comforting thing I have here are the friends I’ve made, especially my roommates.
What do you plan to do after graduating?
I intend to continue studying Business Administration. I plan to get my Optional Practical Training to gain some experience in my area, and with that, work in the US.
What advice do you have for international students?
Firstly, be sure that leaving your home country is really what you want in life. I think the main thing is to live your next experience abroad to the maximum because it passes by very fast.