VOA's Global College Forum Series profiles students from abroad studying at America's colleges and universities. In this edition, we profile Katarzyna Nowak. The Polish native is studying Computer Science in New York.
Katarzyna Nowak came to the United States from Poland. On vacation at the time, she realized this is where she wanted to continue her education. She tells us more about how it became a reality for her.
“I came to the United States two years ago and I came here for vacation and that is when I decided I wanted to come here and study. I have always wanted to study abroad. So I just wasn’t sure where I was going to go. My parents helped me a lot but they are not here so I am here on my own,” she says. “With a little bit of help from my parents friends and with their advice I chose Fordham University as my future college. I am from Poland that is where I was born and I have been in the college for two years, I am studying computer science, but my major is probably going to be mathematics and so far I am enjoying it a lot.”
Katarzyna Nowak is attending Fordham University in New York. She says even though she doesn't live on campus, she appreciates the personal and professional relationships she has developed in her new "home" away from home.
“I enjoy the university a lot. Anytime I have any kind of problems I feel like everybody is very helpful. Although I don’t spend much time at the school because I have a lot of things on my own in my private life, still people don’t make me feel like I am on my own even like with this interview, somebody thought about me to invite me to be interviewed for the Voice of America which I find amazing because I am not really at school that much, she says. “There are lots of things going on and I always get invited to lots of activities on the campus. There are lots of people here living in the dorm, always something going on, always crowded, always a lot of students to talk to, very friendly and that is how I see the school so far.”
While attending school has provided Katarzyna with a number of challenges, she says the cultural differences here in the United States have required some adjustments.
“School is very different, but I think the most difficult thing for me is that my social and private life…. I didn’t know anybody here so for me it was all about finding new friends and getting a life, she says. “It’s a lot being without parents, language and I guess the only thing that really helped me a lot is in my personal life, I am very talkative, I like crowds so it was much easy for me to adjust, but as friendly as city life can be, you can be very lonely here as well so adjustment is a process.”
However, Katarzyna acknowledges that living in New York City gives her a lot of things to see and do when not studying.
“Since I have some friends right now here I usually try to go out with them. During the day it would be just hanging out in the city, in times square, shopping, going out to some clubs, to the movie theatre, Broadway shows, going away for the weekend sometimes skiing whatever comes up.”
Katarzyna says having the opportunity to study in the United States has been something she wants to encourage more of her friends back in Poland to consider...
“From my point of view because I am here studying I think that we still don’t understand in Poland what it means to study abroad and how helpful and how good it is for your career, she says. “And also we don’t have much of an interest to do that nobody really encourages you over there to really go anywhere else and it is not easy for us to go somewhere else and study. It is a process and it’s not an easy thing to do. Nobody is helpful really over there. We are still working on that….to change that.”
Katarzyna may still be undecided about her future after college, but she is sure that once she completes her studies at Fordham University, there's one requirement she would have of her "perfect" job.
“I would love to have a job that would let me travel between Poland and the United States, but I don’t know if that is going to be possible,” she says. “I definitely want to go back to Poland and maybe try to find a good job over there, but if there is an opportunity for me here to stay I would go ahead and do that too.”
Katarzyna Nowak is one of more than 500-thousand international students currently enrolled in U-S colleges and universities.