Stories from our international boarding schools

Advice from alumni: Pedram Esmailzadeh

This is written by our talented IB 1 student, Vita Olmanst, at EF Academy Torbay.  Vita is from Norway and dreams about acting and singing at Broadway someday.  She sat down with Pedram over Skype, so please read on to learn more about our featured alum:

How did you choose what and where to study?

It started with my interest in cars and airplanes as a kid. I was always interested in understanding how things work. I started reading more about engineering, and I decided to go for it. I wasn’t always sure about going to America and it was a big choice to make. I applied to many universities because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. When I got an offer from Arizona State University, I decided I wanted to go there because I liked its vibe and the campus.

What was your favorite part about going to EF Academy?

Without a doubt, the relationships I built with people. We went from strangers to family, and I haven’t experienced anything like it since. I have friends who I will always keep in touch with and that’s something I’m never going to forget. Shout out to my closest brothers: Ra, Peyman, Soroush and Ali.

Have there ever been times when you were unsure about what direction you wanted to go in academically?

I still have those moments. I often ask myself, “Should I do that?” It may be a bit of a dreamy thought, but I want to do something I completely and fully love and desire. That’s something I’m still searching for. I ended up choosing engineering and I’m happy with pursuing that for now because it is relevant to my visceral interests.

How did EF Academy prepare you for university?

The experience of living abroad away from my family in an academic atmosphere was priceless. Some teachers, particularly Oli Chapman who teaches Physics, gave me a lot of inside information on science and studying science-related subjects. When I came to university, I realized how conducive his advice was to my learning.

What were your after-school activities at EF Academy? Have you continued them?

I was part of a fundraising club called the Lion’s Club, where I was a treasurer. I was also part of the Spanish Club for three months, and I wish I had stayed there because there are so many Spanish speakers where I am now and it could have helped me out in daily life.

I haven’t kept doing the same things as at EF Academy, though I still love cars and airplanes, and I have moved on to designing them. Another thing I’ve recently taken up is photography. It’s just for fun, but I like it.

What do you hope will happen in your life in the next five years?

I hope to be studying Business as a major at an American university. Then, I want to go back to Europe. I also have this dream of designing an app; I have many ideas I would like to develop. But what I would most like to do in the next five years is to reach a professional level with my skills so that I can design cars.

If you could go back in time, is there anything you would change about your academic journey?

I actually think about this often. I think I would give more time to my studies at EF Academy. I know I could have done a lot better. I would also have chosen IB over A-Level because it suits my learning style better. They say that you should never have regrets, so I consider this to be feedback.

What are your best tips for EF Academy students?

Focus on your studies, that’s important. Also, never ever lower expectations about your future. At least for U.S. universities, it’s not just about your grades. They are looking for people with ideas and something to offer, not just a perfect CV. Furthermore, you shouldn’t be scared to brag a bit, universities want to hear about all the amazing things you’ve done so never under-sell yourself! It will be surprising how many universities will show interest in you once you apply. Lastly, do what you desire. People who know what they want and go for it are the most successful. Cliché? Yes, but I have done that and I have had great results!

If you could be any historical figure, who would you be and why?

Cyrus the Great. He was exceptional for his time in that he built a massive empire without turning into a dictator. He found importance in human rights, and had a quite modern way of conducting politics.

Name: Pedram Esmailzadeh

Age: 21

Nationality: Iranian

What languages do you speak?

I am fluent in English and Persian, but I speak some Turkish and a little bit of Swedish.

EF Academy campus: Torbay

Graduation year: 2014

Program: A-Level

Residence or host family:

It’s actually a funny story. In my first year, I was in a host family; however, in our second year, my friend Peyman and I decided to rent our own flat.

Favorite subject: Physics

Favorite teacher:  Oliver Chapman, Bob East and Nigel Hooper

Favorite club/society:

Lion’s Club – I got to engage with many students and help people in need.

Which is the next country you want to visit? Canada and Taiwan

Who to interview next?

Soroush Basiratmanesh and Aeris Nguyen

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