On education in Europe and the USA

Clever Magazine
Universities Student life USA Career Editor-in-Chief's column Kristina Lebedeva

Student Life in the USA: Marketa Gajdosova's Inspiring Journey from Prague to Miami

Seated in the stylish lobby of South Beach's Edition Hotel, I am filled with a strong sense of anticipation. It's a stark contrast from the bustling streets of New York City, which I navigated just two days ago. Returning to the lively embrace of Miami is always a pleasure in itself. The sun-soaked ambiance, the vibrant energy – it's a city that invites you to a full immersion into its hospitality.

Today is no ordinary day either. It's a momentous occasion, marked by an exclusive interview with the extraordinary Marketa Gajdosova. My connection with Marketa extends beyond the bounds of a typical interviewee and journalist relationship. For more than six years, I've had the privilege of serving as her education advisor and mentor.

Marketa has devoted all her energy to building a strong professional nutrition counseling base in the Czech Republic, assembling her own team, establishing her brand, launching two bestselling books, hosting a podcast channel, and becoming one of the most recognized nutritionists in her home country, cooperating on international projects and working with a diverse clientele, including top athletes. All this while earning various certificates and accreditations in both Europe and the USA and completing her final year of university studies at Florida International University in Miami.

As we approach the final months of Marketa's studies, it felt fitting to delve deeper into her journey from Prague to Miami, a narrative I'm excited to unveil to the readers of Clevermagazine.
If I had to choose just one word to describe my life and passion, it would be "nutrition." It's not only my career field and academic major, but also my greatest passion, both personally and professionally. Marketa Gajdosova
How did the USA and Miami win your heart, and what made it the perfect city for the choice of your future studies and career?
From the outset, I knew that to become the best professional I could be, I needed to acquire my nutritional and clinical knowledge from the finest institutions available. To be honest, I never even considered studying my field in the Czech Republic because I felt the level of education would not meet my needs. I never fully resonated with the educational system there, and moreover, I was not in agreement with the norms and standards taught in the field of nutrition therapy back home. After experiencing life in the USA for the first time, in Los Angeles, I came to understand the international standards and decided that I would do whatever it takes to reach them and eventually bring them back home to elevate the level of nutrition care in the Czech Republic.

Therefore, my journey to the USA was primarily for the sake of education. The educational system here is renowned for its innovation, critical thinking skills, research-based knowledge, and progressiveness. These qualities immediately captured my heart and presented a challenge that I was eager to embrace.
Can you tell us a little more about your university and why did you choose it?
Florida International University (FIU) in Miami was my first choice from the very beginning. As a top public research university, it is frequently ranked among the best in the USA. However, what was most important to me personally was the quality of the Nutrition & Dietetics faculty, as this was my anticipated major. The program at FIU is known for its comprehensive curriculum, experienced faculty, and strong emphasis on practical experience, which aligned perfectly with my educational and professional goals. Additionally, the university's commitment to research and innovation in the field of nutrition further solidified my decision to pursue my studies there.
How has Miami's educational environment contributed to your academic growth and personal development?
It has played a significant role in my academic growth and personal development. The diverse cultural landscape of the city has provided me with a unique perspective on global nutrition issues and has enhanced my understanding of the importance of cultural sensitivity in my field. The exposure to a wide range of clinical and community settings has helped me develop a well-rounded skill set and has prepared me for a successful career in nutrition and dietetics. It has undoubtedly shaped me into a more confident and adaptable professional, ready to make a positive impact in the field of nutrition.
Miami is a city teeming with life and culture. How does this vibrant setting inspire the content you create for your social media?
Miami's lively and culturally rich setting provides a colorful backdrop for my social media content, infusing it with diversity. However, I must admit that the demanding nature of my studies leaves me with limited time to fully immerse myself in the city's culture, so I strive to portray the reality of this rigorous academic journey through my posts.
Focus on academics and a successful career must be challenging. How do you manage your time effectively to keep up with both?
It requires careful time management and prioritization. I use a structured schedule to allocate specific time blocks for studying, work-related tasks, and personal activities. I also prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance, ensuring that I focus on high-priority items first. Additionally, I try to stay organized and use tools like planners and digital apps to keep track of deadlines and appointments. Regular breaks and self-care activities are also crucial to maintain focus and prevent burnout. By staying disciplined and flexible, I'm able to manage my time effectively and keep up with both academic and career commitments.
For a student or a visitor, what are your top recommended spots in Miami for studying, relaxation, or finding inspiration?
For studying, I highly recommend the libraries at Florida International University, which offer a quiet and focused environment. When it comes to relaxation, the beautiful beaches of Miami, such as South Beach, provide a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of academic life. For inspiration, I would recommend visiting the Wynwood Walls, an outdoor museum showcasing large-scale works by some of the world's best-known street artists.
As you mentioned, Miami is known for its diverse culture. How has immersing yourself in this multicultural environment enriched your personal and academic life?
Immersing myself in Miami's diverse culture has greatly enriched my personal and academic life by exposing me to a variety of perspectives and practices in nutrition and health. This multicultural environment has broadened my understanding of global dietary habits and health issues, enhancing my ability to address the needs of a diverse clientele in my future career.
How important has networking been in your life here? Can you share any tips for students building meaningful connections in Miami and the USA?
Networking has been crucial in my life both here and back in Europe, as it has opened doors to opportunities and provided me with valuable insights into the nutrition field. My tips are to actively participate in university events, join professional organizations related to their field of study, and engage with peers and professionals on social media platforms like LinkedIn. It's also important to be open-minded, approachable, and genuinely interested in learning from others.
Every journey has its challenges. What challenges have you faced while living and studying in Miami, and how have you overcome them?
Living and studying in Miami has presented several challenges, including the demanding academic regimen, adapting to a different education system despite having previous experience, managing time zone differences between the Czech Republic and the USA, and constantly switching locations between Europe and the USA. To overcome these challenges, I've developed strong time management skills, embraced flexibility, and sought support from my peers and mentors. I've also made a conscious effort to stay connected with my roots while embracing the new experiences and opportunities that Miami offers.
What qualities should a prospective student possess to succeed academically in the USA?
Resilience, adaptability, and a strong work ethic. It's important to understand that the academic journey can be extremely difficult, and no amount of preparation can fully equip you for the challenges ahead. Additionally, effective time management, critical thinking skills, and the ability to communicate and collaborate with others are essential for navigating the demanding academic environment.
What advice would you give to students considering Miami as their destination for studies or career?
For students considering Miami as their destination for studies or career, my advice would be to embrace the diversity and opportunities the city has to offer. Be prepared for a vibrant and dynamic environment that will challenge and inspire you. Take advantage of the networking opportunities and engage with the multicultural community to enrich your academic and personal growth. Additionally, make sure to balance your studies with exploration of the city's unique cultural and natural attractions to get the most out of your Miami experience.
You are a mentor yourself. Why would you say it is important to work with a professional rather than moving on your own in terms of choosing and preparing for your educational path abroad?
When you aspire to be accepted into a globally recognized institution, it's essential to seek support and guidance. Working with a professional mentor is important when choosing and preparing for your educational path abroad because they can provide expert guidance, insider knowledge, and personalized advice that can significantly enhance your decision-making process. A mentor can help you navigate the complexities of the educational system, identify opportunities that align with your goals, and avoid common pitfalls.
How did your mentor help you?
You were my very first academic mentor and advisor. You have been by my side from the very beginning, and we're still in touch. You have even personally flew to Miami twice to meet me during these last few years. (smiles - editor's note). Your ongoing mentorship has been a crucial factor in my success and growth as a student and as a professional. I'm extremely grateful for your support.
What is your recommendation on how an international student can prepare for university studies in the USA?
As an international student preparing for university studies in the USA, my recommendations are to first thoroughly research the institutions and programs that align with your academic and career goals. Familiarize yourself with the application process and requirements, such as standardized tests, language proficiency exams, and essays. It's also important to understand the cultural and educational differences you may encounter, so engaging in cultural exchange programs or online forums can be beneficial. Financial planning is crucial, so explore scholarships, grants, and funding options early on. Lastly, develop your English language skills and seek guidance from mentors or academic advisors who can provide valuable insights and support throughout your journey.
With Miami as your background, what are your future aspirations for your academic career and blogging journey? Would you like to stay in the USA?
My future aspirations involve continuing to bridge the gap between my experiences in the Czech Republic and the USA. I would love to maintain a balance - spending time in the Czech Republic, but also taking extra advantage of opportunities the USA has to offer, such as international conferences, access to the latest research, networking, and international projects.