24 episodes

Join us as current and former international students and higher education professionals share their unique and diverse experiences, dreams and journeys. We’ll explore the impactful things these students and educators bring to the world, thanks in part to their studies in the U.S.

International Student Stories brought to you by Study in the USA Study in the USA

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 6 Ratings

Join us as current and former international students and higher education professionals share their unique and diverse experiences, dreams and journeys. We’ll explore the impactful things these students and educators bring to the world, thanks in part to their studies in the U.S.

    The Psychology of Test-Taking: How to Crush Anxiety and Succeed in Life

    The Psychology of Test-Taking: How to Crush Anxiety and Succeed in Life

    Dr. Dimitrios Vonofakos joins us to pick up where we left off on our previous episode, “Life’s Pop Quiz: The Unexpected Lessons of a Grad School Exam,” alongside Anish Merchant. Dimitrios summons up his encyclopedia of knowledge on the psychological aspects of test-taking to bring us a fresh perspective on test anxiety, facing your fears, and applying problem-solving frameworks to real-world challenges (not just test-taking). Join us for an in-depth guide to overcoming mental hurdles and acing the test of life. 

    Episode Summary 
    01:52 - Dimitrios shares memories of a cherished childhood photo. 03:15 - How did life lead Dimitrios to study psychoanalytics at the University of Essex? 05:10 - Dr. Dimitrios examines his role at Merchant GMAT & Admissions and the ways he’s utilizing psychoanalysis in his work. 06:31 - What sparked Dr. D’s interest in GMAC in the first place? 07:28 - If the GMAT were an actual person, how would Dr. D describe it? 08:16 - What is this ‘person’ — in this case, the GMAT — trying to bring out of another individual? 09:02 - Dr. D examines how fear is the greatest challenge that students have to face as they tackle the GMAT. 10:37 - Dimitrios reflects on the promises companies make to improve students’ scores but how the reality never lives up to those expectations. 11:47 - How do people deal with anxiety? 14:40 - Dr. D speaks on frameworks that Merchant applies to navigate the mental blocks of test anxiety.  18:18 - How are the psychological challenges we face on the GMAT a metaphor for the challenges we face in our lives? 21:51 - Dimitrios touches on the idea of “skipping” — and how you don’t have to solve everything. 22:56 - Dr. D leaves us with two insights that he thinks are essential for those navigating the GMAT and the tests of life. 25:40 - How can you get in contact with Merchant GMAT & Admissions? 
    Links
    Merchant GMAT & Admissions
    University of Essex
    Sigmund Freud
    Psychoanalysis
    The GMAT Exam 

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    Study MBA in the USA
    A GMAT Story & Additional Resources
    Merchant GMAT & Admissions

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    • 27 min
    Life’s Pop Quiz: The Unexpected Lessons of Grad School Exams

    Life’s Pop Quiz: The Unexpected Lessons of Grad School Exams

    Anish Merchant often recounts “The Hero’s Journey” — the story of a hero who goes on a grand adventure to find where he or she belongs. Stories like this inspired Anish to leave the U.S. in pursuit of his own grand adventure — one that helped him find where he belonged: in Buenas Aires, Argentina. Rather than this signaling the end of his journey, it was the birth of a new one. Anish’s new calling took shape in the form of his company, Merchant GMAT & Admissions, which helps students navigate the GMAT and, as an extension, life itself.


    Episode Summary 
    02:53 - What is the meaning of Anish’s name? 03:39 - Anish explains how seeking adventure brought him to his new home — Buenos Aires, Argentina — and how it changed the trajectory of his life. 05:58 - What is it about Buenos Aires that resonated with Anish so much?07:05 - Anish looks back on the origins of his company, Merchant GMAT & Admissions. 10:44 - How does Anish see the role of an MBA degree in a person’s life?12:05 - Anish gives advice to students who see the GMAT or MBA as an end goal, and suggests that it’s simply a means to an end. 14:48 - As important as it is to know what you want to do, Anish stresses the importance of knowing what you don’t want to do. 18:47 - Anish compares the pathway to an MBA to the path you walk in life. 19:34 - How is the GMAT a metaphor for life itself?21:40 - Anish breaks down problem-solving structures that are inherently present in the GMAT. 24:15 - Anish talks about how the fear of failure inhibits students from performing to their potential. 26:35 - Anish gives one last story on how working in international education has changed his life. 28:00 - Who is Anish’s favorite superhero (and what superpower would he want)? 
    Links
    Buenas Aires, Argentina
    Merchant GMAT & Admissions 
    Meaning of the name Anish
    The GMAT Exam 
    MBA 

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    Study MBA in the USA
    A GMAT Story & Additional Resources

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    • 30 min
    'Unlocking the Universe: From Forbes 30 Under 30 to New Frontiers in Science' - S3: Episode 5 with Maryam Esmat (Part 2)

    'Unlocking the Universe: From Forbes 30 Under 30 to New Frontiers in Science' - S3: Episode 5 with Maryam Esmat (Part 2)

    Introduction 
    Maryam Esmat, a Forbes Middle East 30 Under 30 honoree, returns for the second part of her interview. In this episode, Maryam shares the work she’s done for NASA by AURA on the James Webb Space Telescope, her current research on the topic of dark matter, and the rarity of Arabs in the physics realm. 
    Join us to hear how Maryam is mentoring the next generation and paving the way for students looking to follow in her footsteps. 
    Episode Summary 
    02:00 - Maryam reflects on her time at the Space Telescope Science Institute, working on the James Webb Space Telescope. 05:29 - Maryam mentions two separate projects she worked on with the James Webb Telescope — (1) calibrating the space telescope AND (2) informing exoplanet scientists on how to use it.  07:27 - How did Maryam react to being chosen for the Forbes Middle East 30 under 30? 09:14 - Maryam explains dark matter, what it is, and why it’s important.  15:32 - Maryam talks about her experiences collaborating with scientists, including the HAYSTAC collaboration and Dr. Katelyn Breivik. 20:11 - Maryam debunks common misconceptions about the astrophysicist community, and how she believes people should view them. 23:28 - Maryam touches on being one of the only Arabs, especially women, in the physics and astrophysics space. 26:25 - Maryam gives a PSA to all Arab physicists out there in the world — contact her — she’s part of a Discord channel that connects Arab physicists worldwide! 27:07 - Maryam highlights how important it’s been to her to mentor students, from helping them apply to U.S. institutions through EducationUSA to now mentoring them in astrophysics and creative writing. 29:00 - Maryam shares her advice for students looking to study in the U.S. 
    Links 
    NASA by AURA
    James Webb Space Telescope
    Space Telescope Science Institute 
    Forbes 30 Under 30
    Dark Matter
    Haloscope at Yale Sensitive to Axion CDN
    Katelyn Breivik

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    Study at Lycoming College
    Study Astrophysics and Astronomy in the USA

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    • 34 min
    ‘Prologue to Greatness: Author, Astrophysicist, and Mentor' - S3: Episode 4 with Maryam Esmat (Part 1)

    ‘Prologue to Greatness: Author, Astrophysicist, and Mentor' - S3: Episode 4 with Maryam Esmat (Part 1)

    Introduction 
    Maryam Esmat’s 24 years of life have played out like a greatest hits album. She’s graced the pages of Forbes Middle East 30 Under 30 for her work in astrophysics and donned the title of the youngest published author in the Middle East — yet, if you ask her where we are in her life’s story, she’d tell you we’ve only read the prologue. Maryam is currently pursuing her PhD at Johns Hopkins University, and if that’s any indication, her story is shaping up to be one for the history books.   
    Episode Summary 
    03:09 - Maryam takes us down memory lane, introducing us to her version of the city that never sleeps, her childhood city — Giza, Egypt.    03:53 - Maryam reflects on her household of avid readers, fellow academics, and a mountain of books.   05:06 - Maryam speaks on how the intersections of history, culture, and literature from her parents’ interests gave rise to her personal interest in science. 06:05 - Maryam mentions how the U.S. liberal arts style of education drew her to study abroad.  07:32 - How did Maryam’s family support her decision to come study in the U.S.?  11:19 - Maryam reflects on the reactions of those around her when she first moved vs. now. 13:30 - Maryam emphasizes the depth of geography in the U.S., and mentions some of her favorite states.  15:06 - What are some of the biggest misconceptions or stereotypes that U.S. residents have about international students? 17:49 - Maryam gives us an overview of her award-winning novel, “The Escaping Flashback,” and the inspiration behind it. 20:30 - Maryam mentions how she grounds her writing in reality, taking inspiration from science, human interaction, and the human psyche. 22:05 - Maryam looks back on her creative writing thesis at Lycoming College, “The Evolution of Storytelling in Egypt.” 25:13 - What is the next story Maryam wants to tell? 
    Links 
    Johns Hopkins University
    Giza, Egypt
    The Escaping Flashback
    Liberal Arts Education
    Forbes 30 Under 30

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    Study at Lycoming College
    Study Astrophysics and Astronomy in the USA

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    • 28 min
    ‘Elevating the Student Voices of Tomorrow’ - S3: Episode 3 with Danny Nguyen (Part 2)

    ‘Elevating the Student Voices of Tomorrow’ - S3: Episode 3 with Danny Nguyen (Part 2)

    Introduction 
    Danny Nguyen returns for Part 2 of his two-part interview. In this episode, Danny shares his optimistic outlook for the future of international students and the importance of elevating student voices. Despite his optimism, he sees areas for improvement, particularly in accounting for the experiences of international students. Join Simon and Danny as they discuss the state of job prospecting, the weight of comparison, and the importance of community. 


    Episode Summary 
    02:09 - Danny speaks on how humbled he was meeting international students from all walks of life during his time as a teacher.  05:30 - How have Danny’s experiences as a teacher played into his current role as the Vice President of Administrative Services at Mission College? 07:42 - Danny speaks on his current mission to listen to and elevate student voices. 10:44 - What can we do as friends, family members, or higher ed workers to elevate the voices of students? 13:46 - Danny shares his optimism for the future of international students and the diversity of thought, innovation, and creativity that’s been sparked in the industry.  16:36 - Simon and Danny speak on how valuable the experiences of international students are and how that’s lost in job prospecting. 18:49 - As someone who knows the weight of comparison, how did Danny deal with it, and what advice does he have for students? 20:51 - Danny stresses the importance of finding community as an international student. Links 
    Mission College
    Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
    Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals 

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    • 24 min
    ‘Escaping 1977 Vietnam: Finding a Place to Belong’ - S3: Episode 2 with Danny Nguyen (Part 1)

    ‘Escaping 1977 Vietnam: Finding a Place to Belong’ - S3: Episode 2 with Danny Nguyen (Part 1)

    Introduction 
    1977 — In a year remembered for the “Fall of Saigon,” and “Black April,” Danny Nguyen and his family were caught in the middle of a war-torn Vietnam. Call it courage or call it desperation — Danny’s parents wanted a better life for their five children, and if that meant sailing out into the dark, cold ocean to find it, then so be it. The VP of Administrative Services at Mission College you see today is in stark contrast to the four-year-old who’d just landed in America in 1977. As the saying goes, “sometimes you have to lose yourself to find who you are.” 

    Episode Summary 
    02:48 - Danny reminisces about a recent family trip, a big hot tub, and one memorable family picture. 04:18 - Danny looks back on the state of Vietnam in 1977 and what urged his family to flee on a boat in the dark of night.06:24 - Danny reflects on his most vivid memories of leaving Vietnam, and how he rediscovered a part of himself when visiting Ho Chi Minh City in 2015. 10:37 - As a young kid in a new country, what was life like when Danny arrived in the U.S.?  12:28 - How has the theme of ‘belonging’ impacted Danny throughout his life? 16:32 - How did Danny balance holding onto his culture vs. assimilating to American culture? 20:14 - How did Danny go from despising academics to making it such an integral part of his life today? 23:25 - Danny shares how his decision to pursue academics was more of a journey than an epiphany — one that saw him rebel, pursue pharmacy, and so much more. 28:24 - Danny shares his appreciation for his music choir instructor from Sylvandale Middle School, who went the extra mile for him.  
    Links 
    Fall of Saigon
    Mission College
    Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
    District 11 
    Finding His Place at Mission College
    Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals 
    Sylvandale Middle School 

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    • 31 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

CV3cheese ,

Eye Opening

Love the different stories and perspectives each interviewee brings, and the host bounces off of them seamlessly! Looking forward to all your future episodes!

academic savage ,

Brilliant!!

Really enjoyed all of it kept me completely absorbed the whole way through and that’s not easy!!

MildredOStephens ,

Inspirational

Inspiring stories. Thanks so much for sharing!

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