USTL provides full scholarships to outstanding students from Timor-Leste for two to four years of study at high-quality undergraduate degree institutions in the United States. Scholarship awards include full tuition toward either a bachelor’s degree or associate degree, travel, living stipends, medical insurance in the U.S., and visa costs. USTL is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), U.S. Department of State.

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First of all, I would like to thank the USTL program for giving me this fantastic opportunity to study in the United States. I am studying Accounting at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, WI. This chance is surreal for me. I still pinch myself sometimes to make sure that I am not dreaming. I never thought that I would be here today. I first arrived in Appleton on the 7th of August 2021. I was so anxious, and I felt like my mind was at war and I didn't know what to expect. I arrived around 4 P.M. at the Airport and was picked up by Jack to my new residency. The first things I took notice of were the nice people, the size of the buildings, and the American school systems.

America is a large country and has an outstanding landscape. The grass and trees are green and well maintained, and the streets barely have any trash. People here in America are amicable and are willing to help, especially at my College. All the people you meet always have smiles on their faces and ask if you need help. I always got lost for the first month of school because the building is pretty big, but there were student guide’s in orange clothes at every entrance that would help you. Even if you walked across the road, all the vehicles will stop for you, which is fantastic.

School is taken seriously in the United States. My first two weeks at school were overwhelming. I kept waking up in the middle of the night because of the anxiety, but that is normal because most international students face the same challenges settling and adjusting to a new environment. The education system here is the best that I have encountered in my life because they have advanced technology with abundant resources that you can utilize. All my instructors here are helpful. They all answer your emails right away if you have questions. even on the weekends. They always make sure you are comfortable and engaged in class. My first semester was challenging because you have to learn to settle in a new country, learn how to handle different weather, and adjust to language barriers but I took it as a learning curve and enjoyed the process. I am content with my 4.0 GPA for my first semester. One thing I also learned is time management and never skipping class because of constant assignments, projects, and quizzes every week.

I also took advantage of the opportunity to take a trip to Chicago. Another thing that blew me away was the size and the architecture of the buildings there. I used to always see huge high buildings in movies, television, and magazines, but now it is right in front of me. I tried not to act dramatic even though I was screaming in excitement on the inside. We had boat tours with my other fellow international students at Lake Michigan in Chicago, took pictures, and discovered the city the rest of the day. It was such a great and memorable experience.

The key takeaway for me was managing time wisely and taking advantage of the opportunity to learn and grow. Your success here depends on the time and effort you invest in yourself. You can always have fun but you have to put your priorities first.