Stories from our international boarding schools

Alumni Feature: Viola Marcia, pre-med student at Manhattan College

In March we caught up with EF Academy New York alum Viola Marcia to talk about the lessons she has learned since she moved to the US in 2014.

What is the most valuable thing you learned at EF Academy?

I learned who the type of person was that I wanted to be around. I was completely in my phone early on, and missed my family and my home, and I cried a lot. After a while I thought “what I am here for if I’m just looking at my phone?”. I started to put the phone down more often and started interacting with people more. The fact that we all spoke English brought us together, but I learnt some Russian, German, Indonesian and got to see such a variety of different cultures. I like more variety and more international people now, and I find I work better with those people as a result of my time at EF Academy.

Why did you choose to study abroad?

The US has a lot more opportunities than Italy. I want to be a doctor and this is the land of dreams where you can do anything if you work hard enough. As a student and as a human being I am always learning new things. It’s important to stand up every time you fall down. My friends were worried we wouldn’t talk anymore and they said I was crazy but I talked to my parents and they decided they trusted me enough to send me abroad. If I wanted to go back the option was there but I knew that if I came back I would regret it. I stuck it out and I am so glad I didn’t go back.

Do you have something that helped you get through the hard times?

It’s super important for students to be able to branch out when you’re studying so hard. You have to stay true to yourself, turn off your mind and have some time to yourself or you risk having a breakdown. Even 30 minutes or an hour a day to have a break will help. Go to the gym, play the violin, go to the park. Don’t stay on your phone the whole time. Medical schools like to see that you have interests and aren’t just studying.

How do you think you changed at EF Academy?

EF Academy started to teach me how to manage my time. Before EF Academy I was living with my parents, where my mum was the one telling me what to do and when to do it. When you’re living with roommates who are all the same age as you, that voice has to be in your head. Feeling like an adult is cool, but you have to be responsible. I realised I need 8 hours of sleep and that I like routine. In college it’s even more intense and you need to make sure you learn good habits. Bad habits are easy to learn but if you put your mind to it you can learn good habits.

Do you have any advice?

  • Meet new people, try new things, and expand your horizons.
  • Any friend can be useful to you in the future, you don’t need to have enemies. Be friendly and hard working.
  • People say “Been there got the t-shirt”. Well, get yourself a t-shirt and show that you did these things so that when you go to college those experiences can support you.
  • Take any opportunity that you can, and try not to miss anything because life is short.
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