Program: University Connection
I felt welcomed on my first day in February 2020, with a smell of fresh coffee and delicious sweets. It was nice that Kara St. Francis, from the admissions office, remembered my name only from previous emails before we meet in person. I have to say that this is one of the first things I liked about ELP - they care about their students and their whole experience here, not only academically but also socially and culturally. Starting from the student center and its many activities and trips to the creative clubs they have, which meet the variety of students’ interests.
I personally joined the Running club, initiated by Lisa Taglang (manager of University Connection programs), immediately after I heard about it. Although I was new to running and we were only able to meet once (due to the Coronavirus), it really motivated me to adopt it to my exercise routine, and I now run at least once a week. On top of that, I loved the running trail by the river, and I tried running in different trails after. It also happened that Lisa became my “wellness advisor” during this pandemic, and she kept sending me emails to check up on me (how caring and thoughtful). I appreciate her and the ELP for that, and I thank her for being so humble to offer to carry my backpack for me while we were running. I also would like to thank Erick Hyde and Leah Greenspoon from the University Connection program for their guidance through writing my personal statement, for their enthusiasm and patience in helping me and other students, and always offering their support.
Coming to the ELP had its difficulties but I can confidently say that it was all worth it. I started at the ELP thinking that my English was good and that I knew the US culture well, from movies and series I had watched before I came. However, I later learned that there was so much more to learn and to improve. Meeting students from different countries and getting to know the US culture closely really changed the way I see the world. The teachers’ effort during this difficult time and the shift to online classes should be highly acknowledged. Regardless of all the obstacles, they showed so much professionalism, flexibility, and compassion. I also appreciate how they don’t only teach the language but also try to mix it with fun activities, match it with modern technology, help us build important skills, and highlight valuable cultural and social life lessons. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to meet all of them, but two teachers really stood out to me, Lori Chintiz and Daryl Ellerbe. They were constantly trying their best to be fun and creative instead of sticking with the traditional way of teaching. Moreover, it is beautiful to witness other ELP staff involved with the students and highly engaged in their matters.
It can be overwhelming sometimes to deeply learn and understand a language, to adapt to a new life, and to achieve our goals while embracing new changes at the same time. Nevertheless, it was a very rewarding experience that changed my perspectives and broadened my mind, and greatly improved my personal, social, and academic skills. I was also accepted to the university I wanted, and I am ready for the next adventure. For that I am grateful and glad to have been a student at ELP, and will continue to hope for the best for all of its great team, members, and students.