Brazilian international student Thomás Claro, currently studying communication and theatre at Millersville, gives his insight on the educational benefits of studying abroad. Claro is a transfer student and this is his first semester studying at Millersville as a sophomore, but he knew he always wanted to go to college in the United States.
Claro moved to Lititz, PA with his mother and brother after his mother got a job here with Johnson and Johnson. During this time, Claro started looking for a nearby university where he could finish up his studies.
Once he discovered Millersville and its humanities area of study, he booked a campus tour with his family. He knew then he could see himself taking classes through the university and started exchanging information with the international admissions office. Shortly after going back to Brazil to retrieve all the necessary documentation he would need to attend, Claro was accepted.
Claro loves that he is able to study theatre and arts here at Millersville, since he would not have the same opportunities back home. Due to Brazil’s poor economy, it’s even harder for an artist to get their feet off the ground and find a job than it is in the US. Claro confirmed that if he was still living in his hometown of São José dos Campos, he would most likely still be studying journalism.
“I feel that I can have the chance here. Here I believe I can do this and I’m really excited. This is one of the reasons I wanted to come back as well, not just because I like the country but because of the opportunities,” says Claro.
In Brazil most students jump at the chance to study abroad in countries such as the US or Europe, due to the lack of “university for everyone.” Students must pass difficult tests to be accepted into the limited spacing at these universities. To help students prepare for these tests, they are taught chemistry, physics and math from a young age.
While Claro does love his country, he felt he needed to get out of his comfort zone and travel to the US where he knew he would have a better chance at pursuing a career.
“I love it here, being able to choose all the classes I want to take. There we cannot choose anything, like never. Even in high school it’s all prescheduled for you,” says Claro. Since, Millersville has more of a trial and error process, he hopes to eventually take on a piano minor due to his love for the arts.
“There are many places where music lives here. They say there is a lot of music and art here. I’ve seen many art studios, paintings, there is a lot around here. It’s cool,” says Claro.
Claro would definitely recommend this study abroad experience to other students for opportunities such as, “Learning, experiences, new languages, new people, new things to do,” he says. “Just go ahead and have at least a semester abroad and you’re going to have fun.”
Mai Yamada, an international student from Japan is also studying here at Millersville. One of the first culture distinctions Yamada had to pick up on right away was the difference in greetings between the two countries. For example, in Japan it is a sign of respect to greet everyone you meet with a bow, while in the US people simply just shake hands.
Compared to the educational quality of her university back home, Yamada favors Millersville and its diverse classrooms. At her university, students can only take a foreign language major with several sub courses within it.
“General education classes have students of various majors so that we have many different views for each discussion,” says Yamada.
One of Yamada’s biggest fears about studying abroad in the U.S. was the language barrier. “I sometimes struggle expressing myself and understanding slangs in English. I’m afraid of miscommunication so language is really important to me,” says Yamada.
One of the highlights for Yamada while abroad was the opportunity to learn in all English in the classroom, and study linguistics here at Millersville.
She highly recommends a study abroad experience in Japan to other students if the opportunity should arise. She believes immersing oneself in another culture is the best way to experience the country and all its unique characteristics.
“It’s completely different to feel, experience, and be exposed by the culture in the country. If you really want to know what the real Japanese culture is, I highly recommend to stay in Japan at least a semester long,” says Yamada.