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From Venezuela to university in the USA

29 May, 2019

I'm studying the University Preparation Program. It's very cool because you learn how to write essays and to develop yourself before entering college. 

Miguel Molina Hoyos, from Venezuela, is currently taking the Undergraduate Preparation Program at Kings New York. We talked to him about his study plans, dealing with current challenges in his home country, and the importance of having the right attitude.

Hi Miguel, what are you studying?

I'm studying UPP (currently Level 4) at Kings New York. This is the step before I can enter college. It's very cool because you learn how to write essays and to develop yourself as a Concordia College student before entering college. 

What made you pursue a college degree in America?

In the beginning, I was planning to study in my country, Venezuela. But the political situation got very rough and complicated there, so I decided to pursue my studies in America, just like my sister.

In America, there are unlimited opportunities to work, and if you already know Spanish and speak English as well, you can find more opportunities to work.

What has it been like trying to study and deal with difficulties back in Venezuela?

For me, personally, it has been very difficult to focus. I have been worried about my grandmother. She lives in Venezuela and she says, "I was born here and I want to die here", so until very recently she was refusing to leave. My family finally persuaded her to leave the country but now she needs to sell the house, which is very difficult given the current situation.

What has been happening in Venezuela is very hard to process. For example, I cannot even communicate with my grandmother because she has no electricity. I am going to visit her this summer.

What major are you interested in, and why? 

Originally, I was interested in Psychology. My thesis in high school was about psychology. My second choice is Business and Marketing. I have been thinking about my own project, like to own a bar. My friends and I are actually thinking about opening a bar together in the future so learning about business management will be very useful.

My whole family is in the field of Civil Engineering, but my interest really lies with business, so I'm going to be the first one in business in my family.

Why did you choose to study at Kings at Concordia College?

I actually received acceptance letters from Pine Manor (Boston), UW–Fox Valley (Wisconsin), Concordia, and another university in Chile, but I chose Concordia. Fox Valley was too far and too cold for me — even New York is too cold for me! Wisconsin is also too far from Iowa, where my sister is studying currently. My family thinks even Iowa is too far to visit, so New York works better. The familiar setting of Concordia also helped me made this decision.

What are your 'dream schools' you want to go to, after finishing your English preparation and Pathway program?

For now I'm considering finishing Concordia College to get my Business degree here. In terms of a big university, I guess my dream schools would be Penn State or Loyola University in Chicago.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduating from college, I want to start working. I have this instinct that Venezuela is going to be free in 4 years. I mean it's impossible to be under a dictatorship for 24 years! So when things get better, I would like to go back to Venezuela and settle there.

Have there been any difficulties with classes or life in general?

At first, I was also shy to talk in English in front of people. I have this problem that I can't be in a silent place so when teachers ask a question, I start talking. I can't help it! I also really enjoy my classmates. We help each other. They are not arrogant or overly competitive.

I haven't really had any trouble socializing as I like to talk a lot. In terms of the culture shock, there were some difficulties there. For example, the thing I can probably never get used to is the climate, the constant changes in temperature. I need to get better at getting used to it and surviving in this climate.

Which student activity did you enjoy the most?

I participated in an Easter Egg Hunt couple of weeks ago. There were lots of students running around campus and searching for eggs. Some eggs had Amazon gift cards and Apple Airpods in them! I didn't find any eggs, but it was a nice activity.

What do you usually do after school or at weekends?

If the weather is bad, I watch movies or play ukulele in my room — I bought a ukulele last semester. If the weather is good, I usually go to the Central Park to skate.

What is your favorite part of living in New York?

This is my first time in New York as a student and as a visitor. I like that it's a very multicultural city. I also like that there is no one dominating ethnic group. It's very diverse. The only thing I don't like is that we don't have cooking areas in the dormitories.

Is there anything you wish you would've prepared before starting school?

I wish I had been more diligent in high school and gotten better grades. I wish that I had created better study habits.

That's a great piece of advice! Anything else you'd like to share?

First, don't be shy. If you're shy, you're not going to develop yourself. You need to talk a lot because it's English classes. For me the only way to improve pronunciation is to speak and let people hear you. It's like math, you need to do math exercises constantly to get better at math. And one more thing. This is a formula I have been following:

Vida (Life) = Conocimiento (Knowledge) + Habilidad (Ability) x Actitud (Attitude).

You can have knowledge and have the ability, but without the right attitude, you are not going to achieve anything in life.