Interview and article by: Nicole Garzaro, Xufeng Zhong, and Dillon Young
International students thrive when they study abroad. They face the challenge of studying in a foreign language in a place many of them have never been to. Here at the GU Papyrus, one of the best parts of our work is hearing from international students about their experiences and then sharing their stories to inspire others. We recently got the chance to meet with Martina Garcés, who is in the first year of her program of study at Greenville University.
Martina came from Ecuador. She was born and raised in a happy family of four members, including two huskies. Through her desire to open her eyes to different ways of life, she decided to study abroad. “Because this opens a lot of doors for your future, and it is a different experience and not all the people have the opportunity”, said Martina. When we asked her about why she chose to study at Greenville University, she answered that the camaraderie amongst students here is very strong. “It is a nice university, very small so for that, you can know all the people and know different cultures,” said Martina. There is no question that here at Greenville University, you’re likely to get more individual attention and run into familiar faces everywhere you go.
Martina enjoys helping people, so she chose psychology as her major in order to promote better understanding and tolerance. She has found developmental psychology to be her most favorite class, which is a branch of psychology that focuses on how people grow and change over the course of a lifetime. As we know, psychology requires a certain level of communication and an awareness of the relationships between people, as well as analysis, reasoning, and critical thinking. Thus this is quite challenging for Martina as a non-native speaker. “Language and people are very different [from my home country],” said Martina, “And the idiom is different too. For example, for the projects and assignments, you have to be very careful with grammar.” Although she has only been here for one semester, she has already begun to feel stressed about it. Every time when she feels the pressure, she can’t help but focus on missing her family, her hometown’s food, and her home country.
In her home country of Ecuador, there is one tradition called the Inti Raymi, which is a celebration of the indigenous peoples known as the festivities of the sun and gratitude for the harvest, involving music, wearing of colorful costumes, and the sharing of food. “We made a big lunch with all my family and then we tried to make a lot of dances, and we sang all day”, she recalled how her family celebrated the Inti Raymi.
During Martina’s spare time, she also works in the DC. According to her, the simple tasks in DC don’t take much power, so that she can still study or do homework on workdays without feeling overworked. “And I like to know people, I can learn something new every day,” said Martina. Besides having some sort of income and getting exercise, we all know how easy it is to make new friends once you see the same people working at the same hours every week.
And finally, when we asked Martina about the future, she said her goal is to stay in the United States, and “to be a professional in my major helping people and doing my best.”