Parrichat Chinchotikasem from Thailand: Studying Psychology at Berkeley City College in the Associate Transfer Degree Program
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO STUDY IN THE USA?
First, for me, if thinking about psychology, somehow, I always relate it to the U.S. I was always fascinated by the diversity of people here. Some even cannot speak English but still have their own community. Difference means there are something new to learn and I see the possibility to expand my knowledge and my mind.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE BERKELEY CITY COLLEGE?
I chose to study here because they have the Associate Transfer Degrees to UC Berkeley and I am still not 100 percent sure if I want to pursue to be a psychologist or applying the knowledge with business. Therefore, it is a good place to start from the general idea of what I am interested in and when I know for sure that I want to pursue higher education on this field, I still have a chance to continue in a good university.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST?
I’m an international student so life here is not very easy for me. Berkeley City College and other college under Peralta Community College District provides me the necessary information for life here and education plan. All staffs here are very friendly, nice, and willing to help.
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST?
Definitely if it does not count my family, it’s Thai food, especially street food.
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST SURPRISE?
A stranger say ‘hello’ to me. It’s kind of nice. Sometimes a stranger just talks to you about places, weather, news, culture, etc. Now, I am the one that say ‘hi’ to a stranger. For the education, students here are willing to share their experiences or what they know related to the discussing topic. I like the class atmosphere.
HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED:
… LANGUAGE DIFFERENCES?
I try to ask every time when I do not understand. Sometimes it is not only the language but also the accent. I know have my accent, so I am not going to judge anyone, I’m going to just keep focusing, listening and ask more until getting used to it. It’s pretty fun. It’s a plus that you can learn many English accents from people here.
Life here is costly.
… ADJUSTING TO A DIFFERENT EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM?
Most people here understand how Asians are. They understand that many Asians are passive learners so I just tried to speak up and encourage myself to be more active.
WHAT ARE YOUR ACTIVITIES?
I’m not in any clubs but I work for an international student office here as a student worker. Here, they give you an opportunity as equal as the local students.
HOW EASY OR DIFFICULT WAS MAKING FRIENDS?
It’s not too difficult from my experience. If you are not afraid to talk to them, they will be friendly to you. Just talk.
HOW RELEVANT IS YOUR U.S. EDUCATION TO YOUR PERSONAL GOALS AND TO THE NEEDS OF YOUR COUNTRY?
I want to understand people and I also want to my own business. And if have a chance, I want to be a teacher, too. Certainly, the U.S. education system encourages me to not be afraid to go and get it. I used to be afraid of negotiating, but being here prepares me to speak up. And I think not only Thailand, but everywhere, people need more people to understand them.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHER STUDENTS WHO ARE CONSIDERING A U.S. EDUCATION?
U.S. education encourages you to be a better version of yourself. The version that is not afraid to speak what you believe in, the version that is not afraid to request what you want and deserve. Here you can learn about other cultures and their perspectives. Because people here come from everywhere, you certainly have something to learn from them and, on the other hand, teach them too. But don’t expect life here to be easy. It’s challenging.
Consider this as an opportunity in life to understand yourself and others, to appreciate the similarities and to understand the differences. When you are not afraid and open up yourself, you will see a bigger world. You will be more appreciated.