Diego is a former TLC student who is from Panama. He came to the United States in April of 2018 through a government-sponsored study abroad program. In this program experience, those chosen students had the opportunity to study four months of English with The Language Company-Edmond and one semester in select fields of study at TLC Host University, University of Central Oklahoma. He shared his great experience with TLC, UCO, and life in the United States.
I studied in the Intensive English Program for two months at TLC and switched to Advance Proficiency Level for the last two months of study with The Language Company. TLC’s average class size is around 10, so it is easier for me to get to know teachers and other international students. Especially, meeting my favorite English teacher, Andrew, every day was so much fun. Other than teachers from my classrooms, Nauzi, who is a part of TLC-Edmond’s administration staff, always encouraged me to practice English. That made not only me, but also other Panamanian students realize that we have to speak English repeatedly in order to improve. Because of these great teachers and staff, I felt comfortable with TLC Edmond’s atmosphere. There was no pressure to be perfect in English, just encouragement and support to improve. In addition, I really enjoyed TLC’s activities such as Board games and Karaoke parties. Through activities, I was able to meet new people and practice my English .
After four months studying at TLC, my UCO classes started. I usually woke up around 8:30 AM and ate breakfast. After eating breakfast, I went to my classroom by 9 AM and I usually stayed at UCO until 5 PM. When I was in Panama, I used to go to my university from 7 AM and had classes until 12 PM. After classes, I stayed at the library to study around 6 PM. Therefore, there is no big difference in my class schedule. My favorite class was Fundamentals of Speech. My professor, Ms. Carter, always joked around and I had so much fun. It did not feel like a class.
However, there were a few things that I felt completely different from what I was used to. For instance, enrolling for classes is much easier here and I can do it without seeing my academic adviser. On the other hand, in Panama, I had to see my academic adviser and followed what she or he told me to take for a semester. Without seeing them, I will not be able to enroll for classes. However, with the American enrolling system, everyone can get opportunities to earn knowledge from classes that they are interested in learning. In American universities, academic advisers are available to provide guidance on which credits are needed for each department in order for students to complete their degrees. This is the culture shock that I have experienced. Moreover, the style of classes varies from class to class. I never had the same classmates from my other classes. You will meet new people in each class room.
While I was in the United States, I stayed at the place called “The International House.” That is an off-campus dormitory, and you will see many international students from all over the world. My roommates were Oscar from Panama, Makinori from Japan, and Shinyu from South Korea. Because I met a lot of international students, it made me see things in a bigger picture. Before coming to the United States, I used to think about only Panama, but now I do not. Seeing cultural differences definitely made me open-minded.
My advice for those who want to study English in the United States would be to not be afraid of speaking in English. I came to the United States with many other Panamanian students. Yet, I tried to be with both international and American students as much as I could.
Through this journey, I became more responsible, independent, and money-conscious. I also noticed that the more you work, the more you will get in the outcome. After coming back to Panama, I will keep studying my major, software engineering, to get a software developer job. I hope I can come back to the United States someday.
For to see more study abroad experience, check out this YouTube video! (credits: Joseph Morales)