The basics
THE USA: Before you leave

Student focus: studying a master's degree in America

We sat down to talk to Iranian student Farnaz about her experience studying at the University at Albany (State University of New York) in America. A former Intensive English Language Program student, Farnaz is now studying a Masters in Mental Health

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Studying an Intensive English Language Program

What did you learn on the intensive English language program?

We had three different classes; writing, reading, grammar and we had speaking and listening classes.

 

My favourite class was grammar because for me it was not an easy section to deal with grammar, but I had a very good teacher. I try to apply those grammatical lessons to my daily conversation.

 

Who studies the intensive English language program?

I had about 10-15 classmates of which 12 were Chinese. Their age range was between 19-24. One other classmate was 39, she was a doctor in her home country. Another was from the same country as me, she was around 25 years old.

 

What was your experience of GRE?

This is a test that you might need for applying for master’s degree or for some majors or PhD degrees. They don’t offer it for all different kinds of masters, some specific majors need it. This is a very tough exam. GRE takes time, you need to dedicate a lot of energy to accomplish it. There are some specific vocabularies that you might not have come across in textbooks or in conversations. It has a writing section, which is kind of different and difficult because you never write that way usually. There’s also a mathematics section which isn’t that hard and its specifically for international students.

 

What’s an average day like as a master’s student in America?

Because of the nature of studying in the US, I cannot sleep for 48 hours, specifically in master’s degrees, specifically in my major actually. As a student you have to read a lot, write papers. Each time before you next class you have so much to do for the next class.

 

Studying a Masters in Mental Health Psychology in America

In my programme, we have to take 60 credits, including an internship, practical and coursework which is within 2 years. I have to deal with real clients at different setting that the university places us in.

 

What are the benefits of studying a Masters in America?

Getting knowledge of a variety of people. There are a lot of different people in America and from being in the US I have learned that psychology is not just about techniques but about understanding people in the context of different atmospheres. Their perspective that they have from their own country, their own culture.

 

Studying in America 

What’s Albany, New York like to study in?

Albany is a very calm and relaxing place, but it has very very cold weather. I have difficulty dealing with that much cold weather because it’s really frustrating for me. But for those people who love skiing, who love snow, it’s the best place. From Albany you can access big cities easily, it's just two and a half hours from New York city.

 

What tips do you have for international students to improve their English?

I really recommend that outside of class you speak with American students. This is the best way to accomplish your goals. Watch movies and TV shows, this will help improve your English a lot because you can learn a lot of things.

 

What are the differences between how students learn and are taught in America compared to in your own country?

In my country there is distance between the teacher and the student. We need to keep those boundaries. We don’t have permission to talk about anything we want in class. But in the US, teachers are very friendly, they have a close relationship with their students. They create a comfortable environment, they create a safe atmosphere for students to talk about whatever they want, their struggles or any concerns, any difficulties they can talk about.

 

What challenges have you faced while studying in America? How did you overcome them?

One of my challenges was when I came to the US I didn’t know much about cultural things. A lot of international students suffer from culture shock because of just being new in the US.

Study in the USA

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