The small, tight-knit community of Oxford College is nothing new for freshman Mario Costa. In his hometown of Guayaquil, Ecuador, Costa enjoyed a very close community between his family and friends.
Costa’s high school graduating class had about 47 students. He enjoyed the close circle among him, his classmates and his teachers and knew that he wanted to have that same experience during his college career.
When it came time to look at colleges, Costa, who is half Ecuadorian and half Italian, began to look abroad. He had the option of studying in Europe or the United States.
While he did consider going back to his roots in Italy or taking on a new adventure in Spain, he finally decided that U.S. was the best option.
“The United States has the best education and more opportunities. I am going to go to the states no matter what,” Costa said. “Plus Spain and Italy are both going down economically so it would be easier to get a job in the U.S.”
The next three things Costa considered when looking at schools were what kind of business programs each offered, the class size, and the name of the school.
“I wanted something big that would have a good business program. I also did not want to be just a number.”
These qualities helped Costa to narrow it down to three schools — University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown and Emory University.
By the time he got his acceptance letter, Costa was less enthused that he got into Oxford College. Costa had visited the campus a year before and all he could recall was that it was tiny and in the middle of nowhere. Despite this, Costa decided to give Oxford a try an enroll for the fall of 2012.
Costa’s adjustment from Ecuador to Oxford, was a difficult one. This was the first time he was apart from this family and friends. “Being far away from home with no one around that I knew really well was hard.”
Soon into orientation, Costa started to make new friends, but he still missed the people back home very much.
“The relationships I have back home I have had since I was a baby. I came here to meet new people, but I made the mistake of comparing them to people back home so it was hard to make new friends at first.”
His transition became easier as classes started and he soon realized that people here were just as friendly as the people back in Ecuador were.
Another thing Costa was exposed to at Oxford was its diversity. For the first time in his life, Costa was living with people of many different nationalities and cultures. “I learn new things every day with all the diversity at Emory,” Costa said.
Costa, a business major, took this as an opportunity to educate himself for his possible future in international business.
“If I ever want to know what is going on in the world, I could easily ask someone.”
The learning Costa receives outside of the classroom will only help him in his future understanding of the world of international trade and marketing, a route he aspires to be a part of one day.
Costa is also taking advantage of the student-teacher at Oxford. At Oxford, it is rare for many classes to exceed 19 students. Because of this, professors are able to provide individual attention in the classroom and outside during their office hours.
Costa regularly visits his professors during their office hours. He said it has made a big impact on his learning and his adjustment to the academic challenges of Oxford. At Oxford, he is a student, not just a number.
The business gene runs deep in Costa’s family. His father is a very successful business man in Ecuador, but that did not pressure Costa to go the business route himself.
“My parents told me that with whatever I do in life, to be the best one. They will support me, but they want me to be the best one and make a difference.”
Costa is certainly taking the initiative to make that difference here as he is taking advantage of every learning opportunity Oxford offers him.