An International Student’s Perspective
By ALEJANDRO REYES VEGA, CSU PR Student Assistant
Freshman year seems like a long time ago now, but it was barely two years ago that I moved to Mankato and started attending MSU. However, I can still remember what it felt like and can’t believe how much I have changed and my life has changed.
Being a freshman in college is not like being a freshman in high school. In high school you probably already had some friends whom with you attended middle school or elementary school or whom you might have even grown up with. It is also different than moving to a new school where you don’t know anyone.
When you start at a university, you barely know anyone and making friends can be a bit more challenging. Classes are way larger and people that you meet and make acquittance with might not have any other class with you or might not even be in the same major.
My first friends on campus were all international students that I met in orientation. Some were from the same country as me. Some also spoke Spanish. Others were in my orientation group and we became friends after being together for a few days.
However, over time I got involved in organizations and started talking to people whom I had class with. I strongly suggest getting to know people who you have class with. Doesn’t matter if it is only one class, it is good to have study buddies and you might even become friends. Getting involved in campus is another great way of making friends. I am part of different organizations such as CLASA – the Latino Student Organization on campus. Organizations and clubs allow you to make friends home you can share common interests and passions.
When classes started I felt lost for the first week and half. I never attended particularly large schools. The biggest school I ever attended didn’t have more than 500 people and that’s including faculty, staff, and students and that’s from sixth grade to twelfth grade. However, the map I got in orientation was useful and I soon became familiar with the names and locations of buildings (Although I must confess I still get lost in Trafton at times).
As I previously mentioned I am an international student so I was not familiar with the Mankato area and had only visited the town twice before. The first time for my tour, back when I was applying, and a second time after I graduated to leave all my stuff in storage while I traveled over the summer.
Being an international student in a new town as a freshman in college can be a little scary. First of all, we have a lot of rules to follow to make sure we maintain a legal status. Second of all, we don’t have a normal orientation like everyone else; internationals have international orientation that goes on during Welcome Week activities. Third of all, we kind of have to hear or expect stereotypes.
People assume I have Mexican ancestry or I was born in Mexico because I speak fluent Spanish. Others assume that because I am international I will have trouble speaking and that I should have a heavy accent (I have a slight accent 😁). Others think this is my first time in the U.S or I just moved to the U.S. Turns out I have been to the U.S. few times before and I moved here while I was still attending high school back when I was 16.
Your first year in college will be full of new and amazing experiences. Life will change and you as people will change too.