Welcome to America's Global College Forum. This weekly series profiles international students attending one of America's great colleges or universities giving them an opportunity to share a glimpse of their life in the United States.
Tea Cvitas says it was a happy moment for her when she took a chance and applied to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and was accepted. “I am from Zagreb, Croatia and I have always wanted to come to the United States for school. I have heard good things about education here. I have some friends who finished either their masters or bachelors here,” she says. “I had already started college in my own country. Then through some friends I learned about BYU and learned that it wasn’t so hard for me to get here and then I decided to make all the effort I could and come.”
An Economics major with a minor in Business and Psychology, Tea says the professors at Brigham Young University are nice and very helpful and she is glad that with the studies she has chosen, she is able to receive hands on experience which will help her in the future.
"I really appreciate the experience here just because I had started school in my own country and so I can compare. The number of students in class tend to be smaller depending on the class and it seems like the professors really care and that they are here to help you,” she says, "whereas in Croatia I always felt like they are out to get you kind of. It was like ‘you against them’ instead of them trying to reach out and get you to understand everything.
"I really enjoy that a lot of classes do require you to go out and have some practical experience through different seminars or if it's just research papers or different activities that they organize,” she says. “It just seems like it is a lot less theoretical and more practical and I really enjoy that. So, I would says that is the main advantage of being in school here.”
Tea says one thing she has come to learn about America is that it may be a powerful country, however Americans do care about other countries and how other people live. “When I first came out here I was really surprised that people do know about Croatia. They heard of it a lot and that they have a pretty positive image. I mean a lot of the time people will just automatically put it with the former bloc of Russia or communist countries,” she says. "What I see in Croatia is more like resistance towards Americans because I think everyone is kind of intimidated by America because of the power that it has, because of the greatness that it represents in the world and so I feel when I go home that people in a way are jealous – not of me – but they kind of feel resistance towards the United States because I feel that they feel threatened in a way."
"I feel like that should end because people here are a lot more accepting and understanding than Croatians realize,” she says. “Most Croatians will see - and I feel like that is the standard of most of Europe - like Americans feel like they are above the rest of the world and like they are the best, so they feel like they don’t really care about smaller countries like Croatia. But what I have come to learn here is that they do and I wish for people in Croatia to realize that and be more receptive of Americans as people who do care.”
Getting an education, Tea says, is the greatest thing one can achieve and it was through coming to the United States that she says she was able to learn this lesson. “I would want to share that it has been a wonderful experience. I have met so many people and I have learned about Americans. I have completely changed my idea of what it is and I have grown to love America as a country because I realized - through education, through just different interaction with people - I realize how much they really care about individual worth and individual progress. It just seems like individuals are given opportunities and that everyone counts and if you have a desire to succeed that you are given every chance to do that as long as you are willing to work for it,” she says.
“That is a great eye opener that I don’t think I would ever have (had) if I just stayed in Croatia and I think you can take that experience anywhere and still succeed," says Tea Cviutas. "Maybe it is easier to succeed here because opportunities are greater, but if you just see that it is possible then you can make it anywhere. I think that is the number thing that I learned here: Your efforts will be rewarded and every person counts and there is a way for everyone to succeed and excel in what they want to.”