According to the Migration Policy Institute, during the 2016-2017 school year, the United States of America hosted 1.1 million international students.
Sergii Gushchyn, a junior studying computer science, came from Ukraine at the age of 27. He worked at a retail store in Ukraine selling construction materials to save enough money to pursue an education.
Gushchyn attempted to get a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering twice in Ukraine but felt uncomfortable with the school system. He felt the teachers didn’t care about the students’ success.
The second attempt happened after Gushchyn served in the Russia Novosibirsk Mission. He realized that his knowledge and skills could only provide for himself, so he pursued a better education.
“For many places where you can get a better job, they require you to at least have a bachelor’s degree,” Gushchyn said.
To prepare to take the TOEFL exam, a test required for every international student to prove their level of English, Gushchyn downloaded an English book on his computer at home and took notes to take with him to work.
Every day, Gushchyn took a nearly 40-minute bus ride to work.
“I would study English on my way there and on my way back, so about an hour and a half each day,” Gushchyn said.
When he first applied to LDS Business College, Brigham Young University and BYU-Idaho, none of them accepted him. A friend suggested him to enroll at the English Language Center at BYU.
After one semester there, he got accepted to LDS Business College where he graduated with an associate degree in software development.
“It was a good transition. Right now, I’ve talked to some people who came straight from Ukraine to study at BYU-I and not all of them feel as comfortable as those who transferred from LDS Business College,” Gushchyn said. “We got to know the American system and its requirements.”
Coming from a different country brought Gushchyn different perspectives and challenges in culture and infrastructure.
“In my city, you can walk in any direction for 10 minutes and you can find a bus stop,” Gushchyn said .
Gushchyn also saw a difference between the lifestyle and economics of his hometown compared to the United States when he first came to study English. The difference in income per household in the U.S. drew his attention first.
“Very visible income inequality. The gap was a lot bigger,” Gushchyn said. “For example, I was going to school and about 80% of my classmate’s parents, they were all working at the factories.”
Gushchyn strives to graduate now from BYU-I and considers seeking a master’s degree. His idea is to become a professional and become an expert.
“The greater your skills are, the more freedom you have,” Gushchyn said.