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2018 International Education Week Essay Contest: Third-Place Runner-Up

Wednesday | November 14, 2018 | by WES Advisor

2018 International Education Week Essay Contest 3rd Place Runner-Up

To celebrate International Education Week (IEW) 2018, WES Advisor asked readers to send submissions to our annual essay contest. IEW essay contest participants were instructed to write about their best piece of advice for prospective international students considering studying abroad in the U.S.

We received many excellent submissions and we would like to thank everyone who participated in the contest!

Congratulations to our four winners of IEW 2018: Anh Nguyen, Zenia Adiwijaya, Souvik Seal, and Vincent Igenoza.

Our third place runner-up’s essay is below, written by Souvik Seal. Souvik, originally from India, is an MBA student at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


Dear prospective student,

Congratulations! You may have already received a college acceptance letter meaning your days of toil have finally paid off. You are about to embark on a journey that will transform you forever—socially, culturally, and psychologically. At the end of your studies, you may end up as an engineer at Facebook, join a top college as a professor, or start the next Airbnb. There are many opportunities in the U.S. still, even after financial meltdowns.

But, make no mistake, your learning curve will be steep. With a limited amount of money in hand, you will have to cook your own food (believe me, the first few dishes will definitely not be a chef’s choice), drive an old car (or in some cases, learn to drive), look for the cheapest used furniture around (some of which may be really light-weight and make squeaky noises), and so on. But, you are not alone—you will even see people from more affluent backgrounds doing the same chores. All these lessons will make you more self-reliant; your next challenge will be easier by a margin.

Education in the U.S. may differ drastically from your country’s educational system. The colleges and universities in the U.S focus more on a practical curriculum. So, the strategy of poring over a tome the night before an exam may not come as a great help. You have to study in increments throughout the academic semester rather than cramming the night before an exam. Also, U.S. schools offer a highly flexible curriculum. If you are going to a business school, chances are you will take some courses from the law or public policy schools. And, in some colleges, you can even design your own majors.

A classroom is a place to exchange thoughts; don’t be too shy to express your opinions. Most of the professors will not hesitate to go the extra mile for you—some of them will even be your close friends (and invest in your start-up).

In this land, you may be thousands of miles away from your family. You will miss them dearly, but you will also be surrounded by a group of amazing friends. Together, you will study, pull all-nighters, and prepare for job interviews—these friends will become your second family.

Studying in the U.S. may give you a wonderful opportunity to experience diverse cultures. Go out and make friends with people from different nationalities. Yes, they may look different or speak with an unfamiliar accent, but you know they are students too—you all are intellectually compatible.

Campus life at U.S. universities is truly colorful.  You will see large sporting events drawing hundreds to the stadiums, as well as large fairs and vibrant seminars. Someday, you may even line up in front of a Nobel laureate in the cafeteria! Sure, you will stumble a few times, but later when you get up and fulfill your ambitions, you will cherish every moment of that life—and the education you receive will enable you to reach your full potential.


Congratulations again to our 2018 IEW essay contest winners, and thank you to everyone who participated!

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WES Advisor is an initiative of World Education Services, a non-profit organization with over 45 years of experience in international education. We provide advice and resources for international students and skilled immigrants to help them make informed decisions about education, employment, immigration, and integration opportunities in the U.S. and Canada.