USC Upstate News

International Student Reflects On His Experiences At USC Upstate

05- 07- 2009

Spartanburg, S.C. - Every year hundreds of thousands of students leave home to attend college in a distant town or another state.  Then, there are the students who are ambitious enough to enroll as an international student in a foreign country.  International students have additional challenges that bring far greater rewards. 

Andy Gellert is an international student at University of South Carolina Upstate by way of Germany.  He was born in Kazakhstan (former Soviet Union) where he lived for 16 years before relocating to Germany with his family.  He made his home in the southern part of Germany for 19 years before moving to East Germany where he attended Magdeberg University who is partnered with Upstate.  He will return home in June.

Andy is enrolled as a Non-traditional student and is studying Technical Translation for languages: Russian-German-English.  He is taking a variety of subjects in an effort to improve his English skills.

Andy believes his experience here at Upstate has greatly prepared him for his career stating, “I have been learning a lot of things while being here. First of all, the language itself is the reason why I am here. By listening to the lessons in class, reading the assignments, completing written assignments, and talking to different students and people in general, I am learning the culture as well as linguistics. All of these things combined broaden my horizon and help me to prepare for my future goal.”

Andy feels the professors at Upstate are “very friendly and ready to help” because they are “interested in his learning progress”.  He appreciated their efforts in using a variety of teaching methods to aid in his comprehension of the subject matter.

When asked about his fondest memory as an international student, Andy said he was not expecting such warm welcome. “Together with a small group of international students, we were taken to a restaurant by members of the Center for International Studies, and were given all the necessary information we needed to know about the university in particular and the United States in general. We did not even have to pay for the lunch. Another, very impressive experience for my whole family was the Thanksgiving Day we spent in the house of Judy Srock, Director of the Department Special Events and Facilities Scheduling. I never knew this lady before but she invited us to come to her house and we were really stuffed with a variety of American food. It is not because of food that we were glad about, but our excitement is about the generosity and kindness of these people. Thank you, Judy!”

Andy believes his biggest accomplishment as an international student has been having his family here with him on his venture.  Andy is thirty-six years old, married to his wife Ellen and the father of two daughters, ages four and two.  On the weekends he and his family enjoy hiking in the Appalachian Mountains and dining on Russian, Asian, German and Italian cuisines prepared by Andy who has a passion for cooking.  Andy and his wife are teaching their daughters to speak Russian, German and English. 

Andy and his family are members of the Bible Cleveland Park Church.  He praises the church members for welcoming them and assisting with finding an apartment and automobile.

Andy is very pleased with his experience as an international student.  He said, “All students studying Translation in Magdeburg/Germany are expected to go for a year abroad. I decided to come here because USC Upstate is a partner university of the university in my home country. I could not afford to go somewhere else and USC Upstate was able to pay for my tuition and fees. I am glad to be here.”