This school year, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) has been lucky to receive three students as Teacher Assistants (TAs) for German, French and Spanish classes brought to us with the Fulbright Scholarship. The scholarship was created to enhance the foreign language programs at universities in America by having native speakers who are English teachers in their home countries teach their own language and culture, as well as to help the TAs improve their English skills by having them involved in the community, taking classes related to American culture and live in an American college environment. Angelina Davila comes from Uruguay where she was working as a teacher. She notes “It is very different from what I am experiencing here. Here I am a student again (I am taking two courses), and I am also working as a teaching assistant for the Spanish department. As part of my duties I am in charge of conversation classes, which I enjoy very much. It is a new experience that, I believe, will help me improve professionally.” Afrooz Khoosrozadeh is from Germany, who compares her life back home here as both a TA and a student is new. “When I had internships in my home country, they mostly took place during college breaks, which means I did not have to study while interning at schools. However, studying and assisting at the same time has been fun so far and I am really looking forward to these two semesters,” Khoosrozadeh said.
The Spanish TA explains the Fulbright process. “In the process of being a grantee of the FLTA (Foreign Language Teaching Assistant program by Fulbright) I got a list of five colleges I should rank according to my academic and personal interests.” When deciding St. Mary’s College, she did her own research on the college and ranked it at the top of her list. “I have not regretted it, and I do not believe I ever will. SMCM is indeed what I was expecting and a little bit more.”
Assia Khediji comes from Montbeliard, France, a small town where her family is and where she “feels the most comfortable to be herself.” At first she was nervous upon hearing about St. Mary’s college due to its remoteness and distance from major cities, however, since arriving here she is “very glad to be here and has been satisfied with her experience so far.”
Comparing her life back home, Khedija remarks how she is a student in France who studies in another city from her hometown. However, in the US, concerning the differences, she comes with a lot of responsibilities and duties. “I am in an anglophone country so I have to speak a different language from my native one, and I really need to improve my english skills.”
Zarja Gosnik came to St. Mary’s because her college in Slovenia is involved in an exchange program with St. Mary’s. She says “I’m very happy that I decided to apply. It has been a great experience that will stay with me always.” She compares life here as living in a bubble since Slovenia does not have campuses. Zarja feels back home “can never be replaced.”
All four agree their least favorite part about America is the fact that air conditioning is blasted everywhere. However, all four have favorite parts of SMCM. Davilia remarks, “I guess everything is my favorite part! My favorite part is probably the people. I feel like I learn something new and amazing every time I meet someone. No matter who the person is, they always make me feel lucky that I met them.” Khediji agrees and recalls “My favorite part is the kindness of people, and receiving compliments” throughout the day. Gosnik also states “My favourite things here are the Flex dollars, never thought I’d be able to spend $200 on candy and not feel bad about it. And the people I’ve met, particularly my amazing roommates and some lovely Americans that have been really kind and welcoming and that I will remember fondly forever.” Khoosrozadeh states, “I love nature, landscapes, national parks and the kindness and openness of the US people, no matter if it is on campus or in a supermarket–this makes me feel very welcomed and I am always happy to meet new people!”
St. Mary’s offers many study abroad programs. The Office of Iinternational Education is located in Glendenning annex and offers insights, information, and can help answer any and all questions regarding international education. Studying abroad is one way to experience first hand, living far away from home.