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FROM SMALL ISLAND COUNTRY TO BIG UNIVERSITY - A NEW BEGINNING
Have you ever wondered how big universities are in America? How long does it take to walk from one classroom to another? How do students here study and learn in classrooms? Those are the question that I always wanted to know before I came here to the states. In this blog, I am going to answer these questions so stay with me to read the journey of my first semester at my host institutions Colorado State University (CSU).
Most American universities are huge and they are ranging from public universities to private research universities. Unlike in Timor, the numbers of universities are around 5,000 universities. I am fortunate enough to study at one of them - Colorado State University. It is one of the public universities located in Fort Collins, Colorado. I chose CSU because it is one best schools for wildlife biology in the nation. Because my university is a big school so you can imagine how hard it is on the first day trying to learn how to get around on campus. I remember vividly my first day on campus I got lost and late to class because I could not find my classroom on the first day because CSU has a big campus, so the very first lesson I learned from this experience is to explore the campus and try to find where your classroom is located before classes start, that way you will have no trouble finding your classroom in the first day. In my university, we have a lot of resources to support students in their academic journey and as an international, I was surprised by the resources available on campus and they are free for students. Some of the resources are a gym, pool, soccer field (the best one), basketball court, volleyball, and many more.
Classroom settings it is very different from home. The classroom settings are different for each college and depending on the classes that you are taking you might join a big classroom and the number of students can reach up to 300, this is mostly happening in your entry-level course. On the other hand, some classrooms are small, for example, in one of my courses we have only about 6 students in total. I enjoy most of the courses because I have the opportunity to work with other students and learn from them, especially during group projects and discussions. Now, talking about networking and working with other students my school also has a lot of students clubs and organizations that you can join for free. There are clubs that are related to your major for example Society for Conservation Biology or other clubs that are related to community services, sports, outdoor activities, and many more. I am currently joining 4 students clubs on campus. I learn a lot and get to meet students from different backgrounds and improve my leadership skills. I am also one of the officers for the Council of International Students Affairs, we help organize events with international students here on campus, and connect the international student population to share about their culture with local students or trips to hiking and outdoor activities.
Apart from interactive classrooms, the other thing that I love about the U.S higher education curriculum is that I have access to and the opportunity to learn other subjects apart from my major and there is a lot of students club that we can join. I am currently joining the international student organization council we help plan events ad activities for international students' engagements. University requires students to choose from hundreds of general classes that students are interested in learning. As a bachelor of science major, I have to take general classes as well to fulfill my university graduation requirement. This semester I take media and communication studies and I really enjoyed the class. In this class mostly I learn about the history of communication from past to future, popular culture texts, and how media impact society as a whole. I took this class because in my future career I want to work in the field working directly with community members to help manage their natural resources and this class can help me improve my communications skills to interact with communities from different cultures and backgrounds. One of the interesting things I found out from this class is that media can impact how we view the outside world. It changes our perspective of how we humans use popular culture and develop it into something that can either benefit our life or our communications.
I also would like to thank my American and international friends who helped me in my first semester ever at the U.S university. In the first two months, I struggle a lot and experienced a lot of challenges but luckily I have close friends that help me navigate my fall 21’ semester successfully. I remember vividly in my first week of classes I struggled a lot in the classroom; having trouble understanding my professors, being shy to start conversations with my classmates, participating in classroom discussions, and the hardest of all the language barrier. Being away from home to start a new journey in a new country is indeed very challenging but luckily schools here have resources that assist me to succeed in classes, resources such as a writing center and university clubs.
Additionally, I want to highlight as well my first semester here at CSU but I can write pages about this experience however I want to take this opportunity to thank my American peers who helped me navigate my first semester here successfully like Josue, Sam, and David. My first semester here at Colorado State University is going really well. I have learned so much from my professors, classmates, and extracurricular activities. I am hoping that as my semester progress I will become more knowledgeable in my field of course and connect more with my professors and my classmates.