international student in the us
Sophia Constantinidis Chagas, 18, grew up in Brazil with an ambition to understand what goes on in the minds of criminals and to experience a wholly different culture abroad. Source: Sophia Chagas

Sophia Constantinidis Chagas, 18, grew up in Brazil with an ambition to understand what goes on in the minds of criminals and to experience a wholly different culture abroad.

Spurred by the search for a university surrounded by a sunny climate and an even warmer student community, Chagas set her sights on the Sunshine State of Florida.

It was the ideal place for her to get the full American experience. The state has natural wonders like the Everglades National Park, full of sawgrass marshes and swimming with alligators and saltwater crocodiles. Over at Mallory Square, a waterfront plaza located in the city of Key West known for its nightly arts festival named the “Sunset Celebration”.

Florida also proves to be just as diverse as its nightlife. In a recent Hey Tutor survey that uses US Census data, analysis shows that the state of Florida ranks third in the nation for diversity, behind Hawaii and California.

Tampa, where Chagas currently studies, is also among the survey’s top 25 most diverse large cities.

Yet these are just a handful of benefits that Chagas can enjoy as an international student in the US. To find out what else she’s been up to, read on:

Tell us about yourself. Why did you choose to study abroad?

During my freshman year in high school, I spent a month in Florida studying English and living with a host family to extend my language and cultural knowledge. 

After going back home, I talked to my parents about wanting to do a longer study abroad programme and we decided that I would spend six months studying in Jacksonville, Florida.

I then completed my high school studies in Florida and graduated from there in 2018. I always wanted to study at an American university, so when the opportunity showed up, I went with it, and here am I today, a junior at the University of South Florida (USF)!

Why did you choose to study in Florida? What do you like most about studying here?

During the process of choosing which university I wanted to attend, I searched for a place with good weather and international student scholarships.

So when I committed to USF, it was not just because they had amazing research programmes, or that the weather was similar to the temperature back home, it was because of the opportunities that the university gave me (such as the scholarship and the international community).

What I love most about USF is the campus, it is really big and open, full of greenery, ducks and squirrels (which are famous there). 

Plus, the professors are so engaging! For example, I had the same professor twice, once for a class about “International Wealth and Power,” and the other for “International Human Rights”, both of them involved discussions and debates which were really stimulating. 

What are you studying and why?

I am doing a double major in International Studies and Criminology because I intend to follow a career in international law and international organisations once I graduate.

Tell us about your most memorable time as an international student in Florida.

One of my favourite memories in USF was when I met one of my best friends. From the very first talk, we seemed to click, and we had a lot of things in common.

Now, she’s like a family member to me. She also loves doing activities outside, so she would try to get me to go with her, but one of the best things was going to Zumba classes with her at USF. We would always have the time of our lives with songs and dance. It’s an excellent environment to destress!

What are your top recommendations or advice to others who want to be an international student in the US?

I would say to plan ahead if you want to become an international student in the US.

For instance, which universities do you want to apply to? What majors are you interested in? These are questions you should consider.

Another piece of advice that someone from my high school once said and is “engage in extracurricular activities!”

Not only do these activities look great on your curriculum, but they help you to create a network, friends and experiences. Also, if you think you’re capable, take at least four or five classes in a semester. This helps to diversify your skills.

But on top of everything, enjoy your time there, it’s a fantastic experience!


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Why did I choose USF? Before I decided to do a double major in Criminology, I had chosen International Studies as my major. I always loved learning and understanding international concepts, laws, conflicts, policies, economy, and so on. My major allows me to study all of that and much more, like human rights and foreign languages. But what I love most is that this area of study helps a person to be open minded and more accepting. I decided to go to USF because of their researches in international matters. Alongside, with my Criminology major, I want to work with international organizations and international law. #investigation #internationalstudies #usf #relaçõesinternacionais #blogger #sophisabroadlife #studentlife #photooftheday #travelblogger #university #global #law #studygram #study #usfbulls #blog #landscape #capture #nature #motivation #igers #research #neverstopexploring #adventure #explore #photo #instapic #studyabroad #college #instalike

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What are your plans for the future?

I want to be able to work with human rights, assisting victims of crimes, while conducting research on criminal behavior.

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