Meet Bertrando Sinaga: An international student from Indonesia


Bertrando Sinaga outside of ECC.

Eric D. Rangel, Staff Writer

Bertrando Sinaga is a first-year international student at Elgin Community College. He is majoring in business entrepreneurship and plans on transferring to a four-year university.

His first choice is University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign.

“UIUC has a great business program; I am intrigued, because business has always been my interest.” Sinaga said. “All of the subjects I’m currently taking are geared towards the business major at U of I.”

Sinaga arrived at Elgin in August 2022, right when classes were about to start for the fall semester.

Before Sinaga first came to Illinois, he lived in the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta.

 Sinaga explained the transition from Indonesia to Elgin was somewhat okay.

“Stepping my foot at Elgin for the first time felt truly overwhelming,” Sinaga said. “I travelled all the way from across the world. Having been born and raised in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, I have always been living in the city; used to the busy streets, noises, hustle, and bustle. Frankly, this is  my first time living in the suburbs, so I am still trying to adapt. When first arriving at Elgin, I initially thought everything was so far from each other here in the suburbs.”

 After beginning school at ECC, Sinaga helped reestablish a club called United Students of All Cultures (USAC) that wasn’t operating due to COVID-19. USAC assists all students of all ethnic origins to contribute their ideas and culture to ECC

“I started USAC because I saw the potential that the club has. United Students of All Cultures is a platform for all students from every culture to express and share their culture with the rest of the ECC student body,” Sinaga said. “With USAC, the goal is to give more spotlight and exposure to cultures that most people might not know.”

Currently, Sinaga lives with a host family. His host family is a part of a program that ECC offers for international students called International Student Homestay Program.

Sinaga has met a lot of new people and made friends here since coming to ECC. Every international student has an orientation to attend before a semester begins, which gives international students a chance to meet people in similar situations.

“As fellow international students, we were given a special orientation where we could meet other international students prior to the start of the fall semester,” Sinaga said. “I made plenty of friends during that time, and we have become even closer now.”

Sinaga offered advice to existing and future international students who look to transfer to a university outside of their country.

“I’m not going to pretend culture shock and the language barrier don’t exist,” Sinaga said. “My advice is to keep your heads up, set a clear goal, and always follow that goal. If your goal is to transfer to a university after getting your associate’s degree, don’t let anyone distract you from achieving it. But you should also always remember that the study-life balance should exist. Socialize with your surroundings, make friends, and hang out. If you want to get involved and meet new friends currently going through the same, USAC would be the perfect club to join.”