Monday, July 21, 2014

6 Advantages of Studying in the Midwestern U.S.

By Bruno Barbosa

When I moved from Sao Paulo, Brazil, with more than 11 million inhabitants, to a much smaller city in the middle of the Midwestern U.S., I was definitely expecting a lot of cultural shock and lifestyle differences. Indeed, when I first arrived here for university, I sensed big gaps in culture, weather, political views, and social norms. However, throughout my first semester at the University of Indianapolis, I started to realize the advantages of studying in the Midwestern U.S. that I definitely would not have encountered had I studied in a more metropolitan and “hipper” area of the U.S.

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Having a Healthy and Balanced Lifestyle
The first obvious advantage that I noticed as a freshmen student athlete in the Midwest was a calmer lifestyle. Student life in the Midwest is much less stressful and busy compared to what I’m used to. For example, I rarely wasted precious time in rush-hour traffic. This gave me the luxury of having more time to focus on my studies and sports activities. I don’t want to give the impression, however, that the Midwest is boring. It actually seems to provide just the right amount of entertainment and leisure activities that a student needs for breaks in between studies, which is very conducive to living a healthy and balanced life.

Lower Cost of Living
The cost of living, including expenses for basic needs, transportation, entertainment, and leisure is generally much cheaper than big cities. For example, the average apartment rental rate is three times cheaper in Indianapolis than in a city like New York or San Francisco. Today, college graduates might pursue opportunities to live and work in the Midwest because they can save more money. This is especially important if the currency conversions are not in your favor. 

Feeling Safe in Your Neighborhood
One challenge encountered in a student’s life is mustering the courage to live in a completely different place without the care of family nearby. This parallels with a parent's fears and insecurities about sending their child to a school thousands of miles away. It eases the minds of parents and students to know that areas like the Midwest tend to be much safer than other parts of the country. Personally, I have always felt safe living in Indianapolis, be it around the city, on campus, or even on trips with my swimming team. 

Opportunities to Improve Your English
In my own experience, the biggest threat to international students who want to improve their English is being around other students who speak the same native language as them. It's normal to get comfortable with someone who speaks your own language and shares the same culture as you, especially when you recently moved to a new place without many contacts. However, in the Midwest, international students have many opportunities to interact with local Americans, which pushes them out of their comfort zone by constantly speaking and practicing the English language. Even though I have a circle of friends from my country, I also have a group of American and international friends. 

Being Immersed in American Culture
Although university communities can be fairly diverse, the Midwest tends to have less diversity than other parts of the country. However, this has its benefits because it allows you to interact with “real Americans.” You learn that the U.S. as a country is very different from the portrayal you see on TV shows and movies. In the Midwest, you can really immerse yourself in American culture and learn about its intricacies in depth. This opens up your mind and gives you a different perspective of what the U.S. really stands for. The opportunity to get involved with typical Americans is also crucial when networking for an internship, job, or even graduate school. Although your networking circle in the Midwest might be a little bit smaller than what you would find in a larger city, the advantage is that you'll have the chance to create deeper relationships within your networking circle. 

Internships and Work Opportunities
As a senior currently majoring in Business Administration and Information Systems, I can see that the corporate world in the Midwest has a lot to offer. It's home to many growing startup companies looking for fresh and enthusiastic graduates like myself. Also, the headquarters of big companies such as Eli Lilly, General Motors, Boeing, Procter & Gamble, and many others are located in the Midwest. Furthermore, the job and internship market seems to be less saturated and competitive, when you compare it to the market on the east and west coasts. Thus, getting a job and moving up in a company is easier here.

If anyone asks me whether my decision to study in Midwest was the right one, I would reply with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Given the chance, I would definitely do it all over again. The Midwestern U.S. grew on me and I’m constantly amazed by how attached I get of it every day.
Hello, everyone! My name is Bruno Felipe de Sousa Barbosa and I come from Sao Paulo, Brazil. I am a senior majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Computer Information Systems, and a former swimmer for the University of Indianapolis. I love working with people and travelling! I am glad that I am able share my experiences with you and I hope it can help you to reach your goals.

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