About me, Mónica Penya

Hi! My name is Mónica Penya and I am the person behind www.usafirststeps.com

I graduated in nursing in Spain, but due to the lack of job vacancies within this field, I felt forced to seek employment in another country. I chose the USA because there was a lack of nurses and the salary was very rewarding. However, I started to find some problems when I searched for information about America from my country. I would have liked to find a web page where everything was explained in my language, but I wasn’t lucky. Not even the Colegio de Enfermería (Nursing Association) knew about the paperwork to be performed. I spent a lot of time surfing the net and travelling to the embassy.

I managed to understand every process I had to make to validate my University certification and I had to take two exams in English about nursing. As I was looking for information, studying every subject about the degree again, taking the exams in another city and validating all the documents to be able to work there, almost two entire years went by.

How to overcome the English language barrier

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There was only one thing missing: getting the visa. That was the moment where I found the biggest obstacle, the English language. In order to become a nurse, I had to pass every part of the TOEFL test, but the required mark for the speaking part was 26 out of 30. My English language level was pre-intermediate. I had studied English until high school, but I never had to actually speak it. Even though I was good at grammar, I knew that the speaking part was my weakness.

I decided to take the exam after having studied a guide for the TOEFL test that I bought online. When the day of the test arrived, only one boy and me took the exam. He told me that we had been working in England for 5 years and that he wanted to go to New York for a job. We became friends and shared our Facebook. Two weeks later, when I received the mark, I wasn’t surprised to see that I passed every part except for the speaking section, although I didn’t think I was going to do so bad at it. Something that I did not expect at all was the fact that my friend didn’t reach the grade he needed. He wrote to me and explained that his grade was 24, which is not bad, but it wasn’t 26. And he had been speaking English for 5 years! Both of us decided to go to an academy that was specialized in this test. It was then when we realized how bad we had done it.

You don’t actually have to demonstrate how much you know about the English language nor how great your accent is, you only need to say what your examiners want to hear. And I spent a lot of money until I realized that. But, luckily, the second time I took the TOEFL test I managed to reach the 26.

Everything I know about how to pass the TOEFL test is at your service

My life changed completely one month later, when I was offered a civil servant position to work as a nurse in a hospital. After having done everything, I decided not to move and stay in my country. My new job allows me to travel, which is my passion, but this way I’m always back to spend time with my family.

As I didn’t want to waste all the knowledge I had acquired during the last two years. I organized all the material that I gathered to pass my English exam. I collected tricks and TOEFL exam guides all over the internet, as well as my own notes that I got from my classes at the academy. I wrote the book “Usafirststeps Easy TOEFL, consigue un 26 en la sección speaking del TOEFL IBT”, the guide that I would have liked to have myself when I had to take the English exam to obtain the visa.

I organized all the information I needed to be able to work in the USA, that’s when www.usafirststeps.com was born.

All my work was done while thinking about helping someone like you. You and I shared the same dream. My mission is to help you, and if you find either my book or this page useful to make your wish come true, I will feel that all the effort I’m making is worth it.

Thank you very much for trusting me and best of lucks in your new adventure.

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