“Like I’m Not in a Foreign Country”
Friends in Saudi Arabia Choose CU Denver’s ESL Academy
Going to a new school can be exciting yet daunting— especially if the institution is not only in a different town, but also in a different country. Good friends in Saudi Arabia, Shahad and Walaa, knew they would like to study in the United States—but where?
“We reviewed the approved universities on our Sponsor’s list, and considered several in different states,” said Shahad. Colorado won as first choice. Walaa said she knew that Denver was “safer” than some other cities, and upon arrival, was surprised that Colorado was “better than its pictures. The state turned out to be more beautiful, and the city of Denver “more modern” than anticipated.
Both students are enjoying Level 4 classes at CU Denver’s ESL Academy. Throughout Levels 1 through 5, a rigorous curriculum enhances students’ critical thinking skills, grammar, reading, and writing abilities in English, and in American English pronunciation. Content-based instruction enables students to develop mastery of major-specific vocabulary and genre-specific writing and reading. At Level 5, international students conduct research, write a 10-page paper, and deliver a formal academic presentation in English that demonstrates consideration of a topic from multiple aspects.
It’s not just all about work at the ESL Academy. Shahad and Walaa have also enjoyed meeting students from around the world and going to events hosted by the Office of International Affairs (OIA), such as the International Student Picnic. There are other OIA events each semester, including the International Students Welcome Party, as well as university events such as Fall Fest. The ESL Instructors also offer students leaning experiences outside of the classroom through service and community learning activities that include trips to the Denver Art Museum, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, volunteering in community gardens, and Colorado history tours.
“The ESL instructors have been friendly and kind,” explained Shahad. “It feels like I am not in a foreign country.” Her goals are further studies at the Colorado School of Public Health and career preparation. “When I return home, I would like to help improve society and workplace environments through a job in environmental and occupational health.” Walaa’s primary focus is in biostatistics.
According to Shahad, one of the biggest challenges has been living away from her parents and familiar surroundings.
She also noted that one her biggest victories has been learning that: “I can do this!”
Having a good friend along makes entry into a new location much better. With new friends, supportive instructors, and a great academic curriculum, it all adds up to a remarkable educational journey at CU Denver’s ESL Academy.