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Posted on: 10 February 2023 BY: ASoares

I honestly lost track of time. While writing this blog, I realized that this is already my second year in the U.S pursuing my degree in my host institution. As people say, it is true that when you are busy studying what you love, time goes by so fast, and I am ready for what is coming next semester. Looking back at my first semester, a lot of challenges, achievements, skills, knowledge, handwork, and much more that I achieved and still doing, from joining student clubs to making friends with both local and international students and taking leadership roles. My first year of university was the most challenging yet because I came here to a unique environment. I basically have to build up my life from zero on the first day—no friends, no families, and no connections. But it all has changed since last I wrote about my experience here. I now have a good circle of friends, joined student clubs, connected with my professors, and many more. Do you want to know more? Buckle up because I am taking you for a ride with me. I am writing based on my personal experience; therefore, what you read might not be the same as other international students' experience. In this semester's blog, I will share my activities and give insights into what you will experience when coming to the states.

This semester I am selected as the president of a student's club on campus—the Council of International Student Affairs, a student club to build connections between local and international students. It is much responsibility since this club went downhill during the Covid-19 pandemic. Taking this responsibility will not be as easy as making plans to hang out with friends but more than that. Planning and organizing events for students, collaborating with other students' clubs and meetings, and the difficult one is trying to put together a schedule for weekly meetings because me and my officers all students with different programs. I had to start building everything back from the ground up. I also was worried a lot because, before the pandemic, this student club was doing so well. Many activities are hosted for international students on campus, like the world unity fair, international dance night, game night, and many more. One activity we managed to do in Fall 2022 was the international night event, where international students from different countries could present about their home country. It is an activity that I come up with to build bridges between international and American students by sharing their home country's culture, traditions, history, food, and many more.
My school has hundreds of student’s clubs that we can join as much as possible. So, in my first semester, I joined a couple of them.

I am taking a leadership role and making time for social events, but I also must prioritize my schoolwork. I always ensure I have my assignments, quizzes, and group projects well put together, so I stay caught up. It was initially challenging to manage my time for schoolwork and social activities, but eventually, I managed them well and still need improvement. In the first week of my Fall 2022 semester, it was hard to work my time because I had classes and must attend a student expo to recruit new members. I usually start by categorizing my activities - first, divide duties from the most critical, second, important, and third, mild. By dividing tasks like this, it can help you prioritize your tasks. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety before the deadline kicks in.
During the summer, I also had a fantastic opportunity to help with one of my professor's research projects on trout genetics, you may not be familiar with this, but trout is a fish species in the U.S and Canada and northern Mexico; they come with different species such as cutthroat trout, brown, rainbow, and brook. This project aims to investigate the impact of wildfires on the mountains two years ago and examine the implications of ashes on trout genetics and their habitat. I learned a lot from this project about field research and being a helper as a fishery technician. My professor and his graduate students were also immensely helpful in guiding me. Since I have yet to gain experience in electrofishing and collecting samples, they taught me and ensured I was involved and engaged in the process as much as possible. We spent almost a week in the field catching fish using electrofishing techniques, where we used electric shock to make the fish weak so we could collect them, don't worry, the fish are fine, and we released them back into the creeks. Samples were then taken to the lab, and they did the study there. What is fun about this experience is that I get to explore Colorado's beautiful mountains and prairies. The site's location is near campus, about two hours drive. The view throughout the driving distance is magnificent. This summer has been a valuable experience for me, and I learn a lot from it, and I hope to apply it to what I am doing when I graduate.

After another busy Fall semester, I needed a good break to charge up my energy for the next semester, which will be more dynamic. No kidding! After my finals, I hopped on the bus and went to Boulder—one of the most famous cities in the US, only one and a half hours away from my city. I walk around, enjoy the beautiful winter weather, and try the food. There is an Asian restaurant that is well known for its authentic Chinese dishes. It was worth the trip! During the holidays, I spent most of my time with my host family. We did many activities, from hiking, sightseeing, biking, Christmas movies marathon, and experiencing the American Christmas traditions. On Christmas day, we exchanged gifts. It was my first experience. Though it differs from the Christmas celebration back home, some things are similar, like attending Christmas eve mass, eating good food, and having Christmas lights. Here they put up many lights like, my neighbor who puts on a Christmas lights show every night. It was fantastic because the lights and the music were syncing, and the best part was you could connect to the radio frequency that they provide and listen to the music and watch the light show. How awesome is that? On Christmas day, we finally opened the gifts. It was also the first time I sat with the family and opened presents in order. That was super fun Christmas.

That is all for this semester's blog. Thank you so much for reading my Fall 2022 semester blog. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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