I was 16 years old when I left my home country in Iran to study abroad in England. I was enrolled to get a two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB), but after my first year in England, I decided to continue my education in the United States. I arrived in the U.S. when I was 17 years old and I graduated from Education First (EF) High School in New York. Currently, I am studying at City University of New York (CUNY) and I am majoring in economics. In this article, I will share my journey from Iran to New York City.
Why I Chose to Study in the U.S.
There were actually three reasons why I decided to study economics in the U.S.:
- Higher education in the U.S. is more flexible than other systems with a variety of courses to choose from and explore. For example, at the undergraduate level, you must take required courses such as mathematics and history, but you can also choose elective courses that match your interests.
- U.S. universities have students with extremely diverse backgrounds. My high school, EF Academy New York, had students from all over the world such as China, India, and Italy. Because of the connections I made in high school, I was able to visit my Italian friend during the winter break and had a wonderful Christmas eve dinner with his family. Since I started attending college, I have met people from many cultures and countries. For example, I have a friend from the Dominican Republic in my philosophy class.
- I had to study in the U.S. because my future career goals require international experience. Since I was young, I was always curious about each country’s flag, currency, and major cities. By studying in the U.S., I can achieve my international career goals because international students bring unique knowledge to companies and organizations.
My Decision to Study Economics
When people find out about my major, they usually think that I chose economics to work on Wall Street at an investment bank or hedge fund; however, having a high paying job is the least of my priorities. As I mentioned earlier, I have always been curious about global currencies and have a currency collection back home in Iran. My hobby was always saving money my parents gave me and exchanging it for U.S. dollars, British pounds, or Russian rubles.
I found my passion by studying the “language of money” and by figuring out what it meant when the euro appreciated over the pound. When I researched different majors, economics was the answer to my questions as I found it could be applied to many real-world situations.
One time I was sitting at a table with an economist in the campus area and he asked me why I wanted to study economics. I thought about it and said, “look at your surroundings. The school made a decision to put chairs and tables in this yard, but why not a garden or a pool? Economics is the answer to the question of how to use a limited amount of space to satisfy unlimited needs.” I am studying economics because I can use it to solve real-world problems in the environment, politics, and business. I also believe this major will give me multiple options for work after graduating.
My Advice to Others Going Through the Same Process
I advise other international students to embrace the unknown. Although this may sound crazy and illogical, the truth is that you cannot predict the future. You cannot plan every step of your process because everything can change so quickly. For example, I have a friend from Turkey who came to the U.S. to study business administration. After six months, he discovered he would have a better future if he changed his major to computer science. As I mentioned before, changing majors at U.S. universities is flexible. My friend changed his major and became very successful in his chosen field.
Also, plan for your major, university, and accommodation thoroughly. You will feel more confident when you arrive in the U.S. if you are well prepared, but at the same time, you should be flexible and willing to change if necessary. Finally, embrace the unknown and begin your research and applications as soon as possible.
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Mehran A. Tehrani is pursuing his associate's degree in economics at the City University of New York.