For Soraya Molina, she says deciding to leave home and come to the United States to study adds more to her life than just receiving an education. “I know that if I would have stayed back home there are good universities at home. I am not saying there are not and I know I would have done a good job and I would also have a good chance of getting a good position at a work place later on, but I think not only a good education but the experience of just traveling abroad to live somewhere else on your own adds to your general life in college so that is why I think it is a little bit more valuable that I study abroad,” she says.
“Even if I would have stayed back home I know that if working hard is the key to getting where you want, but coming to the states was a step up from what I had expected to do with my higher education.”
Soraya is attending Jacksonville State University in Northeast Alabama. While living home, she went to an American high school all along thinking about the possibility of furthering her education in the United States. “Well I am from El Salvador. I was born in Mexico and my family is Mexican but we moved to El Salvador because my dad’s business and I have lived there since I was three so practically all of my life and I went to an American high school in El Salvador,” she says.
“Afterwards I spent a year in France because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for college and while I was in France I learned about the International House program here at JSU (Jacksonville State University) and decided to come. I applied for the program, they accepted me and I am majoring in communications and I have been here every since four years now.”
Although it is a small town where Jacksonville State University is, Soraya says it is perfect for her and she enjoys being apart of the International house program. “Well JSU has a very nice campus even though it is a small town I thought it was not going to be a good fit for me because I’ve lived in large cities before coming here, but it grew on me the first semester after I got here it was great. I loved it and I was fortunate enough to come into the International House program, which is a lot different than any other international student experience at an American college,” she says.
“This program pairs up an International student and an American in the dorm room and we all live together as a community in a house and there is forty of us and we have twenty-seven nationalities being represented here. People come, people go and everybody works together here in this house. We have trips, we have rafting trips, we have retreats so it has been really different than other people I know that have come to the states and I really have enjoyed it. I have had a ball.”
The 23 year old says although the United States and El Salvador have different cultures, her country is exposed to the American way of life. “I think its not as much as we have a lot of similarities because the cultures are obviously very, very different, but we are exposed to the American way of life and even more because of the school I went to that is what made it easier,” she says.
“Of course we have all of the fast food chains that you can image, there are no Salvador stores, there are no Salvador brands, movie openings they are the same here as they are in El Salvador. Because so many people have emigrated here from El Salvador to the United States then go back they have brought a lot of American culture and traditions way of life to El Salvador.”
Since attending Jacksonville State University, Soraya has a brother that is in his first year at the university. She says it’s nice to have family there. It’s been really fun, more than I expected it to be. I left home five years ago so we hadn’t lived together, so he really grew up during those five years so we be more friends than we were when I still lived at home and this place is big enough for each of us to get our own thing going and have our on little groups of friends and stuff, but it is also nice to have someone here that knows what you are talking about and shares your home sickness for the same things,” she says.
“So it has been good. I like it and he also is having a really good time.” This is Soraya's last year at Jacksonville State University. In the fall she plans to go to graduate school to pursue a master's degree. “Well I recently applied to the University of Tennessee for grad school and I got accepted so I think I might be heading over a little bit north next semester in the fall.”