Mariana Kou puts receiving an education high on her list of things to accomplish and she says getting her education in the United States is the most important thing she could do for herself. “ I’m originally from Macau which is a small city right next to Hong Kong and I decided to come to the United States because I believe that the U.S. has more resources for [getting] an education and that would give me more learning opportunities to get the best out of my undergraduate education,” she says. “I think education is actually very very important because you utilize your background for your career development and skills, but I think that it actually helps you and teaches you how to live your life like what you should do and it helps you to think about what you want to achieve in your life and how do you want to interact with people,” she says. [and] “Overall, what is just correct to do and like what is the right thing to do and it helps you to formulate your goals and your personal life.”
Mariana is a senior attending Notre Dame University. She tells us a little bit about her major. “I’m now a finance major and I am in the Mendoza College of Business. I am very interested in the major and I took a lot of different classes in finance and I have learned the different aspects of the financial markets,” she says. “With my degree, I want to get an analyst position and just start my career in the financial industry,” she adds. “ In the long term I think I will spend maybe ten years in the financial industry and afterwards I may start my own business, but I am not quite sure yet.”
Mariana says being involved in campus activities has been a good thing for her, but she really appreciates the university resourcefulness in helping international students adapt to living in the U-S. “I’m actually in some of the cultural clubs and I am the co-person of the Asia International Society and I think the university has done a very good job to apply the resources to help international students adapt to U.S. life, like providing all the information about how to get a social security number and how to get a job on campus to get use to the U.S. life and meet more people,” she says. “Also I think the university has done a really good job to help people to get a sense of community on campus and to build religious groups. They have a department on campus called ‘campus ministry’ and they organize a lot of retreats to help people get together.”
When it comes to cultural differences, Mariana says the lifestyles aren't that different from her hometown, but she believes that Americans are more of a diverse group and very accepting of people from other countries. “I think one of the big differences that I feel that Americans are more use to different cultures I would say and that they have more experiences to all kinds of different people,” she says. “Even the American companies they have different people from different cultures, different kinds of people from different races and it seems to me that Americans are more of a diverse group,” she adds. [and] “Actually I feel more comfortable coming to the U.S. because it is a diverse group of people and all the people aren’t from one race so I feel that it is very easy to adapt to a U.S. life and it is okay to be an international student and Americans welcome us and we can learn a lot of things from you. As for similarities I think the lifestyle is not that different from my hometown. We have all kinds of facilities and it seems that the life is pretty much the same. I don’t feel that it is very different as far as everyday life.”
After graduation, Mariana will stay in the United States where a job awaits here in New York. Mariana Kou is one of more than 500-thousand international students currently enrolled in U-S colleges and universities.