Meet an INTO Marshall student: Paula Riveros

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Meet an INTO Marshall student: Paula Riveros

Jared Casto, Reporter

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Paula Riveros is a Columbian INTO student majoring in International Affairs. Riveros was attracted to Marshall because of the small size of Huntington in comparison to other university cities. Currently, Riveros is volunteering at the local Ronald McDonald House and eventually wants to get involved with local politics that will give her more knowledge for her major. So far, her favorite experience in America has been attending the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Florida with her friends. Although adapting to American culture and life at a university has been difficult for her, she believes the great people she has met and the INTO Marshall program have made America and Marshall University feel like home.


Q: How long have you lived in America?

A: I’ve been here for nine months.

Q: How do you think you have adapted to life in America?

A: It’s been really hard. Everything is different from my home country. But the people here are really friendly and they help me a lot. The INTO program helps me with every issue I have… The only stuff I’m really still wondering about is the food.

Q: How have you adapted to life at Marshall University?

A: It’s really different, but the teachers know I’m a foreign student, so they want to help me and they know it’s really hard for me in some classes… But it’s not like here [at INTO Marshall] where there are only 14 people and you just ask “I don’t know this word. Can you explain it to me?” You can’t go to a [a class outside of the INTO program] with 100 people and say “I don’t understand this word” because they’re all Americans and you’re supposed to know that stuff.

Q: How and why did you choose to come to Marshall University?

A: There was an agency I was looking at for studying English in the U.S. When I went there they showed me a lot of universities in America and I was like “No. I don’t want big cities.” Then they showed me Marshall. They were like, “There’s no Spanish-speaking people there. There’s really just going to be you and a few others.” And I said, “That’s perfect. Because I don’t want to speak Spanish at all.”

Q: What are your plans after you graduate?

A: After my undergrad, I think to start my graduate. And I’d like to do it in America. And since I’m doing that, I’d like to do an internship. My plans are to stay maybe here—probably not in Huntington, but in the U.S. Just not in my country, at least.

Q: How do you keep in touch with your family?

A: I don’t really talk with my family that much. Just once per week or once every two weeks. It’s not like my friends, who keep in touch every day. And I’m like “What’s wrong with me? I should be doing that!” I really miss my family and sometimes I want to be there, but I feel like if I talk with them everyday it will make it harder.

Q: What has been your favorite experience so far?

A: I went with my friends to Miami and we went to a music festival called Ultra… I used to travel every year and came to Miami because it’s close. But I always came with my family and it’s just really different when you go with your friends. We were people from five different countries and people asked “Where are you from?” I improved my English, I had fun, and I met people. That was probably one of the best experiences.

Q: What are some activities or hobbies you like to do?

A: I was looking actually for something related to volleyball… But it’s really hard. First, if I want to join any team out of the university, I don’t have a car. It’s not like “take the bus” and the bus is here every fifteen minutes. It’s every hour. And I can’t take a taxi everyday because it’s going to be expensive. So I really like to do kind of different activities. I was about to start, but I can’t because of my classes, going to the hospital and helping children over there… I’m going to start with Ronald McDonald—go and cook for the people over there. So that’s my plan, actually. I’m already involved, but I didn’t have a way to get there. But I’m going to have a way soon and I’ll have fun… I also would like to go and see something related with politics here.

Q: Is there anything else that you want people at Marshall University to know about you?

A: I really like this [INTO Marshall] program. I have friends who are doing the same. They just go to another country and study English. It’s ok, you know. But INTO and this program, they’re different. They’re doing everything to make you feel at home… They make activities and just try to make you feel really safe. And I really like that and I’m sure that if it wasn’t like that, I probably would not be here. I would probably not be home, but at a different place… They’re doing small things that make people really like this. I’m here right now, actually, just because I can feel like someone is there. It’s not only with the program, it’s with the people here at the university.