UNF student describes her battle to get into UNF after completing the English Language Program

Alan Vargas

UNF Sophomore Klaudia Ndreu moved to the United States from Albania when she was 19 years old. She speaks four languages and wants to change the way people think about the role of women in society. The International Business major sat down with Spinnaker to talk about the difficulty of passing the SAT after only a semester in the U.S.— a struggle that many international students know too well.

After graduating from an American high school in Tirana, the capital of Albania, Ndreu moved to Jacksonville to join the English Language Program (ELP) at UNF.

Klaudia Ndreu. photo by Luiza Motta.

“I had to fight my way to the U.S. My parents were scared to send their daughter alone across the world,” she told Spinnaker. “But since I came here, many things have changed and they see me very differently now because now I work, I support myself, I live with roommates, even though I have family here. I told my parents I want to be independent. It was very hard to do it on my own but I’m so grateful I did this all on my own.”

However, her fight wasn’t over after joining the English Language Program.

“I applied to UNF and took an SAT in high school in Albania but I didn’t have any idea what an SAT was so I didn’t score very well. So, they said I had to come to work on my English. It was the best thing that happened,” Ndreu explained. “When I came here I didn’t know anything about essays, what a syllabus was or anything. In Albania, we use the Russian system and it is completely different. [The English Language Program] taught me everything: how to take notes, how to give a presentation and everything that you need to know to be successful.”

The ELP Intensive Program at UNF offers 22 hours of instruction per week that range from the beginner level to the pre-university level. It also includes cultural immersion, which brings students on campus to live and learn about life in the United States.

After finishing a semester of the ELP Intensive program, Ndreu wanted to become an Osprey and pursue her goals of empowering women, but there was only one obstacle in her way: the SAT.

“I was really afraid to take it again because I take it really emotionally. So, I went to FSCJ for two semesters and I couldn’t wait to finish so I reapplied and I finally got accepted,” she said.

Many of the students who join the ELP have come to the U.S. for the first time and have little experience with the country and the university system. The ELP courses don’t count towards college credit, so once they learn English and pass the SAT, they must then take courses such as ENC1101.

The SAT is difficult enough for native, English-speaking Americans to take, but for foreign students who just finished learning the basics of the English language, the challenge of standardized testing is much greater.

“I don’t think that foreign language students should have to take the SAT just after they learn English,” Ndreu said.

Ndreu is finishing her sophomore year and moving forward in her International Business degree. She looks forward to finishing and pursuing a Masters in International Affairs here at UNF.

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