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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My first semester at the University of Minnesota

When I first knew that I was accepted to the University of Minnesota to study Food Science and Nutrition, I got completely thrilled and excited. Of course, that the fact that I was transferring from studying in a community college before to the great UMN also scared me a bit, but I always saw it as a captivating challenge that I wanted to give my best to overcome.
It took me about 26 hours to flew from my home country to Minneapolis. In fact, as a person used to live in the tropics, I was a bit nervous knowing that Minneapolis is one of the coldest cities in America, but I remembered that I had already survived from a snowstorm in Buffalo, New York (where I studied before), so I just thought to myself: “Well, I will be fine”.
When I arrived in Saint Paul International Airport, there was already my dorm RA (residence assistant), waiting for me to pick me up. It took us about 15 minutes to arrive at my dormitory and I was able to take one-hour rest before going to my next appointment. After my deserved rest, I went to meet the international student coordinator so that I could go shopping for my essentials here. Actually, to go shopping was really fun since they have everything in only one big store here. By the way, just out of curiosity, we went shopping in target headquarter itself!
My first week in the University of Minnesota started with the transfer student welcome week. It was thrilling because I had the opportunity to meet other transfers students, and every time I told them where I am from I had to describe everything about of my country in order to them to know where exactly its located. Most of them had no idea about Timor and only the students majoring in Geography (when I was lucky enough to meet them) knew about it! Despite this, to be honest, I am always happy to share about my country...
Finally, I went to my College, CFANS - College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Sciences, Department welcome week. It was fascinating to know that Food Science department has their own food industry where they produce different food products to sell. I must say that I was totally astonished!
When the presentations ended, I started my studies, and my first week of the classes was quite challenging since I had to adapt to a very different work environment comparing to my previous college. The classroom sizes are so huge that I most likely compare them to a movie theater. At the same time, the lectures only were about 50 minutes.
Basing on my experiences here and all the wisdom I have accumulated during my first semester, I can give you now some practical advices about the University of Minnesota:

1. Use of the free resources:
I was absolutely mind-blown when I discovered how many things are accessible to UMN students at little to no cost. I encourage you to take advantage of professor office hours, free libraries, online textbooks, and much more. This is not common in other community colleges, so it’s really beneficial to make use of everything while you’re here.

2. Every professor is different:
It’s good to recognize this right away. Each professor has his/her own unique teaching style and it’s crucial to remember that what may works for one, may not necessarily work for the other. Take time to understand and befriend to your professor, since it will 100% help you in the long run.


3. Get up early:
I’ve always been a morning person, which has, admittedly, confused a lot of people. However, when school rolled along, I found it more and more difficult to get up early and head to my 8 a.m. class just because I was up all night to study... However, what is my advice? Just wake up and motivate yourself as harder as you can. Organize well your time. It will give you so much more free time during the day and help you catch up on missed assignments and homework if you manage every minute of your time wisely. That way, you won’t need to wake up all night to study.

4. Form study groups:
I found this to be increasingly helpful throughout the semester, especially during tests and finals. Not only study groups clarify things, but they also help you catch up on missed work.

I hope these advices work for you!