Gonzaga University is a private, Catholic university located in Spokane, Washington in the United States. The campus lies on 152 acres of grassland and is situated only minutes away from downtown. The university offers students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in a wide variety of subjects.

SchoolApply interviewed Divin Wembo Kanyama, an international student at Gonzaga University to find out about his college experiences in the United States.

GONZAGA UNIVERSITY

Location: Spokane, Washington (USA)

Student Name: Divin Wembo Kanyama

Age: 22

From: Democratic Republic of Congo

Graduation: 2018

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QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS

Favourite class: Accounting - the professors are very experienced and they all worked for different international organizations before teaching.

Favourite school event: My favourite school events are the school basketball games because they are very exciting and we have a lot of fun attending!

Five words to describe Gonzaga University: Hope, Purpose, Love, Transforming, Life-changing

Tell us a little about yourself. What were your school experiences like before Gonzaga University?

I am 22 years old and I am currently in my senior year at Gonzaga University. I am originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa and my hometown is called Lubumbashi. I was born in Lubumbashi and I attended school there all the way through to high school. After earning my high school diploma, I went to Johannesburg, South Africa, where I studied English for about one year.

I transferred to Gonzaga University in the spring of 2016. Before that, I was studying at Tacoma Community College (TCC), where I earned my associate degree in business. TCC was my first college experience and it was very interesting for me to learn how to adapt. It took me time to develop independence as a skill. Back in high school, I relied on my teachers to provide all the details concerning class material, whereas in college, I learned to study more independently.

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Why did you decide to pursue your education in the US and specifically at Gonzaga University?

After I spent one year in Johannesburg, I wanted to try something different and I knew that I wanted to study in an English-speaking country. I chose the US because I believe that it is one of the best countries in the world and the quality of education is internationally recognized.

When I left home, I did not know about Gonzaga; I was just going to Tacoma. On my way to Tacoma, I stopped in North Carolina where I visited my aunt and uncle. My uncle had attended Gonzaga University and had really liked his experience here, so that influenced my decision when the time came to choose a 4-year institution. Another reason I chose Gonzaga is because it is a private Catholic institution, just like my high school. Catholic institutions have a very good reputation in my country. When I applied to Gonzaga, I received a great scholarship package, which significantly reduced the cost of education for me.

What degree are you pursuing and why did you decide to study this?

I am currently pursuing my Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting. I liked accounting ever since I was in high school and I really like the fact that this career offers a pretty good opening to most business industries.

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Did you have any issues adjusting to life in the United States or Gonzaga?

Adjusting to life in Spokane and Gonzaga was challenging at first, especially because I didn’t know much about the city. The Center for Global Engagement really helped me to adjust to my new environment. Through the different activities and programs that they often organized, I was able to meet other students and learn more about Spokane and the university.

What has your experience been like as an international student at Gonzaga University?

I can confidently say that my experience as an international student at Gonzaga has been amazing. At Gonzaga, people really care about each other and there is a very special sense of community. In classes, professors are very attentive and they are always available to help.

Spokane is a great place; there are many things that I like about the city. It has four seasons (summer, fall, spring, winter) and Spokane is the first place where I really experienced snow! Last winter break, the Center for Global Engagement took us on a trip to go skiing. This was an amazing experience and my first time skiing! Downtown Spokane is a great place to go for different activities: for a walk, good coffee places, great theatres, and in terms of food, there are a lot of international restaurants: Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Ethiopian, Moroccan and more.  

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Are you taking part in any extracurricular activities?

At Gonzaga, students have the opportunity to engage in different sports. Before coming to the US, I did not really like basketball; I liked soccer more. However, after coming to Spokane, I have to say that basketball is quickly becoming my favourite sport. There are basketball clubs for every level, even beginners, like me. I have friends who play tennis, golf, swim, etc. There is a wide variety of choices for extracurricular activities. We also have many clubs on campus, like the Intercultural Student Union, which promotes cultural integration across campus.

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What were your first few days at Gonzaga University like?

When I first arrived, I was very nervous because I didn’t really know what to expect. As time went by, I started to feel more and more comfortable because the people are very nice and caring here. I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of extraordinary human beings who have really impacted me in a positive way.

Are you holding a job while studying?

My first job through Gonzaga was as an Accounting tutor at a local community college. Through the university, I have had many other job opportunities. For example, last summer I worked at a golf course in Ray, North Dakota. Working there was amazing and I was able to meet a lot of nice people, including the owner of the golf course, who had also graduated from Gonzaga. This job was great, on top of being paid, I had free housing!

What are your plans after you graduate?

My plan after graduation is to enroll in the Master’s Accounting program here at Gonzaga University and prepare for my CPA exam. The Master’s program is one of the best nationally and the cost is quite affordable with all the different scholarships available to international students. Gonzaga has prepared me for life after college through their good quality of education and amazing job experiences.

What would you say to international students who are considering studying at Gonzaga University?

I will definitely recommend that they apply to Gonzaga! This is a great place to be, the people at Gonzaga are very caring and attentive.

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