J-1 Scholars
Student Stories
Getting a Student Visa
Attending CUNY
Maintaining Your Immigration Status
Understanding Employment Options
Living in New York

Adrian Moore
Brooklyn College

Home Country: Jamaica
Degree: Business Management and Finance

Neighborhood: Canarsie
Borough: Brooklyn
Commute to School: 30 minutes

My name is Adrian. I am from the island of Jamaica, and I'm studying business management and finance at Brooklyn College.

After I graduated from high school in Jamaica, I worked with the airlines for a number of years, so I saw for myself what America was really like. After getting to know the country, and after hearing how much my best friend from high school loved studying there, I knew I wanted to go to college in the U.S. After studying for a while in Florida, I decided to move to New York City because I have family there. I researched different schools and found that Brooklyn College had exactly what I was looking for and was also affordable.

When I arrived at CUNY, my student visa had expired. Re-applying was a long process, but the International Students Office guided me through every step. Not only did they help me with my visa, but they were a great resource for other problems, too. From the very first visit it was obvious they valued me as a student. The person who worked with me was also from the Caribbean, so she understood my questions and was easy to talk to.

Studying in America isn't easy. The culture is different and the classes are challenging, but studying here is very rewarding. The city is exciting and there are always a lot of fun things to do; but remember to always get good grades. Brooklyn College has excellent instructors who are always willing to help you succeed. It is definitely a great choice if you choose to study in New York.

Ernest Nkansah Dwamena
City College

Home Country: Ghana
Degree: Environmental Sustainability

Borough: Bronx
Rent: $700 / month
Commute to School: 10 minutes

Hello! My name is Ernest, and I'm from Ghana. I'm a grad student at City College, studying environmental sustainability.

After graduating from college in Ghana, I wanted to go somewhere culturally diverse, where I could meet people from different backgrounds. New York City seemed like the perfect place to go. I also wanted to continue studying in a big school that could give me lots of opportunities-to me, that meant CUNY. I found a great match for my interests at City College, so I applied there.

City College is a very large, very diverse campus. At first it was scary to meet and talk to people from different backgrounds while I was still improving my English, but I learned to be patient while expressing myself. I found that CUNY offered many English classes for international students, and after taking a few classes I was speaking English comfortably.

My favorite thing about my campus is that I really feel like I belong. People here are friendly and accepting, and it's easy to find people with similar interests. Faculty care about students and want to help with my questions. Even the school president will take time to chat with me!

I was recently accepted for a PhD program for environmental sustainability at Arizona State University. I will be continuing my studies there once I have finished my Masters at City College, and I'm grateful to CUNY for helping me pursue my passion.

Francyelle Lopes
City College

Home Country: Brazil
Degree: Business Administration

Borough: Manhattan

Hi! I'm Francyelle Lopes. I'm from Brazil and I'm studying business administration at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.

I first came to New York to study English at a language school. When I was ready to move on to college, my language school said CUNY was the best option for international students. They were right - CUNY has so many international students that they have created many, many programs and resources to help them. There were workshops to help me understand the academic system, experts to answer my questions, and students from my own country for me to talk to. There was always someone available to help me.

In Brazil, you have to decide your major before you apply to college, and then you're limited to a small list of classes within your major. Here, you can make your own schedule, study a lot of different things, and make big decisions when you're ready. The variety of classes means I don't just understand my field, but I can learn about other fields, too. I think this system prepares people better for life and I'm so happy to be studying here!

If I could give new international students one piece of advice, it would be to get involved! Join clubs, volunteer, and go to events and activities on campus. I got involved as a student ambassador, which meant I set up events, greeted students, and talked to other international students whenever they needed help. I made friends and connections that helped me get the most out of my time at CUNY. CUNY can do so much to help you, but they won't come find you. You have to take that first step. It's hard, but worth it!

Gulnigor Karimova
Kingsborough Community College

Home Country: Kyrgyzstan
Degree: Pre-Clinical

Neighborhood: Bensonhurst area
Borough: Brooklyn
Rent: $1000 / month
Commute to School: 15-30 minutes

Hi! My name is Gulnigor Karimova. I'm from Kyrgyzstan, and I'm working on pre-clinical studies at Kingsborough Community College.

A few years ago I was studying journalism at the American University of Kyrgyzstan, and I felt I needed a change in my life. I wanted to study medicine instead, and I also love learning languages and meeting different people, so I wanted to go somewhere with a diverse culture. My husband is a graduate of Kingsborough, so he recommended I study there. The school has a great nursing program and has students from all over the world, so it seemed like a great place to go!

I love Kingsborough. It's affordable, but it's still a great education. The nursing program is very competitive, so the classes are challenging, but there are lots of resources for students. There are free tutoring classes for every subject, and academic advisors can answer your questions about courses. The campus also has a huge library where I go to study with other students from my science classes.

I ended up making a lot of friends in these study groups! I also met a lot of people when I took yoga classes in the city. It's easy to meet people because there are always activities, clubs, and events to join. Studying in the U.S. was exactly what I needed, and I'm glad that I chose CUNY.

Manpreet Khatra
York College

Home Country: India
Degree: Medical Assisting

Neighborhood: Jamaica
Borough: Queens
Rent: $800 / month
Commute to School: 20 minutes

Hello! I am Manpreet. I am from India, and I am studying to be a physician's assistant at York College.

I felt the U.S. was the best place to continue my education because here you can take lots of different classes and explore new subjects. I love learning about different topics; I think it prepares me better for life after college. The faculty here are also wonderful. They tell you exactly what they expect from you and how you can improve. It's very helpful, because I'm used to faculty who leave you to figure things out on your own.

CUNY gave me a great orientation, with lots of information about finance, scholarships, advisors, resources, tutors, and other opportunities for international students. I'm using this information to apply for scholarships, and I'm getting tutoring to improve my English writing skills.

I'm especially grateful for my international advisor at York College. She helped me get my student visa, and continued to help me when I arrived at school. She told me where to go for orientation, suggested I join the International Club, and keeps me updated with news about activities for international students.

I'm excited to graduate and return home to my family with a great education. CUNY was definitely the right choice for me!

Maria-Leena Salomonsen
New York City College of Technology (City Tech)

Home Country: Denmark
Degree: Hospitality Management

Neighborhood: Forest Hills
Borough: Queens
Commute to School: 45 minutes

Hi! I'm Maria-Leena. I'm from Denmark, and I'm studying hospitality management at City Tech in Brooklyn.

I've been in love with New York City for years. After a few visits, I knew I needed to live here. I found out it would be easier to move to New York if I were a student, so I decided to apply to colleges in the city. A lot of students in Denmark only consider Columbia or NYU, which is fine if you're in an exchange program and will only be spending a year there. But if you want a full education in New York but don't want to pay a high tuition, CUNY is the best option. I have friends who went to CUNY, and they all told me it was the place to be.

For example, one of my professors at City Tech has three Master's degrees from Columbia. I feel like I'm getting a Columbia education from him, even though tuition at City Tech is so much lower.

I love going to school here because the students are so diverse. I feel like I learn about people just by walking the halls. But even though there are so many international students here, I still feel like the staff are looking out for me. I have an international student officer who helps me with problems right away. She even asks me how I'm doing when we see each other in the hallways.

With my hospitality management degree, I plan to travel the world, find work at a hotel chain, and live either here in New York City or home in Denmark.

Nayanny Bello P.
John Jay College

Home Country: Dominican Republic
Degree: Public Policy and Administration

Location: New York City

Hi! I'm Nayanny B.-Paniagua. I'm from the Dominican Republic, and I'm working on a combined Bachelor's and Master's degree in public policy and administration at John Jay College.

I was studying law in the Dominican Republic and I decided I wanted to finish my studies in another country. Having an international degree will give me a lot of opportunities back home. I applied for and got a scholarship to study in the United States, and I chose to study at CUNY so I could live in a city. Plus, John Jay College has a strong criminal justice program - just what I was looking for!

Studying in a foreign language is difficult, and I have to do extra work to keep up with my classes. But having to work harder keeps me focused on what matters: my GPA. And I'm never on my own, because the staff and faculty here are so helpful. For example, the director of the Center for English Language Support always makes time in his schedule to personally help me with my questions or problems. Also, my science professor is really helpful. She goes out of her way to give me advice, and I'm not even a science major!

Life on campus is exciting, and there's always something going on. In the three years I've been here, there have been trips to amusement parks and to places in the city. There are also events on campus, like Stress Week before finals, where you can get a free massage and information on managing stress.

After getting my degree, I plan to return to the Dominican Republic, get a job in the government, and help change things for the better.

Yazeed Mohammed
John Jay College

Home Country: Saudi Arabia
Degree: Criminal Justice

Hello! My name is Yazeed, and I'm from Saudi Arabia. I'm studying criminal justice at John Jay College.

My interest in CUNY began when I heard that John Jay College was a good place to study law. I wanted to become a police investigator, so I decided John Jay was the place to go. I applied online, and everything went really smoothly. All the directions were clear, the paperwork was simple, and the whole process took about two weeks.

It was more difficult to adjust to life on campus - finding my way around was tough - but everyone was helpful and kind. Students, teachers, and staff all helped me whenever I had a question. I made a lot of friends in my dorm and by participating in activities, like a religion group I joined.

CUNY can help you in almost any way you might need. For example, they organize language-building, where students teach each other languages. Two of my friends are studying Arabic, so I teach them Arabic and they teach me English. CUNY also helped me get my driver's license. They gave me all the forms I needed and told me how to fill them out and where to send them.

CUNY has been a great choice for me, and I can't wait to return to Saudi Arabia with a respected degree in criminal justice and pursue a career as a police investigator.