Words from Recipients 
               
   2012  Frank Wan:        
   

I wanted to write a few words of advice for all future Hong Kong study abroad students, and give them an idea of all the potential problems that awaits them in their new stage of life. Fitting into a new environment proved rather difficult for me, even though I had previously attended a boarding school in Hong Kong. It took me around 4 months before I was able to make close friends in my campus of 30,000 undergrads, and it was a very difficult time of transition for me. Another noteworthy point is that many Hong Kong students don’t utilize their free time to the fullest potential. It’s important to take every opportunity you get in university as it starts defining your future lifestyle. I would also recommend anyone who received an engineering offer from UIUC to seriously consider accepting it.

During my first semester in university, I found the following ways very useful in helping me adapt to this relatively rural environment. Through a summer information session, I was able to contact several 2nd years, who then provided me with tips on registering for courses and managing the complicated logistics. They also proved to be very generous and helpful throughout my year in college, where sometimes we would meet for dinner or even offer me a ride back home. I was extremely grateful that I was given the opportunity to make such friends, especially during such a difficult transition period. At the beginning of the semester, I found that it was best to focus mainly on academics and socializing with floor-mates, classmates, and Hong Kong peers. It was important for me to feel at home in the new environment as quickly as possible to minimize nostalgia and homesickness, as it hindered my efficiency in work constantly. I also found that joining clubs and fellowships allowed me to meet people who share common interests. I currently know many friends throughout campus despite its large size. Keeping in touch with old classmates and parents through Skype helped me feel more encouraged to study as well during the transitional period.

Once I felt comfortable in my new environment and that my grades had stabilized, I found it useful to then start joining clubs that I was interested in. I joined AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) and will run for a board member position this year. This club provided me with networks and company lectures, helping me to build my resume as a Chemical Engineer. I joined the university triathlon team and am managing to fit the training schedule into my own busy schedule. I would say it’s extremely important to investing any spare time into clubs you have interest in, since it will determined your future career path and lifestyle. On many occasions I saw Hong Kong students stuck in the mundane routine of life; eat, study, game, and sleep. They forgo from the many opportunities that the university offers, and once that mindset sets in, it’s easy to see how they’ll live the same way in the future.

On a more personal level, I’m enjoying my experience as an undergrad engineer in UIUC more and more. Through my church, clubs and classes, I’m enjoying my current lifestyle and have encountered many great people as the term progresses. It matches my experience in LPCUWC, where I have found myself a new home far away from home. I also hope that many close friendships forged here will last into the far future. Additionally, the public facilities here are amazing and make my life here very flexible and convenient, like how bus stops have estimated arrival time of different buses. The food here is pretty decent as well, though you’ll have to watch your diet constantly or you’ll experience the “freshmen fifteen” (a term referring to 1st years who gain a lot of weight). Last but not least, I’m also looking to get a position as a research assistant in a chemical research group, and am extremely excited about this opportunity and the changes it would bring to my social circle and academic experience. With the endless opportunities that the university provides me, I’m constantly growing in all aspects of life; sports, academics and social life. I cannot wait to see myself in 3 years’ time and see how much I have improved as a person.

   2012  Aaliya Amrin:        
   

I still remember getting an email notification from Mr.Gordan Tam and the GET foundation about being accepted for the scholarship which turned out to not only enhance, but foster my college experience like no other. A one time award of USD5000 does more than can be fathomed into words for a student like me who had ambitious passions for 100 different clubs and organizations on campus, but barred by money.

Upon arriving at USC I discovered that there is a club for everything out here, most of which I wanted to give a shot. This was the first time I realized how much the scholarship helped me in terms of paying up membership dues and such that would’ve normally hindered my decision. This brings me to one of the greatest moulding experiences of my freshmen year. I’ve always been a dancer, I’ve danced and performed for several shows and productions through out high school and my life back home in Hong Kong, and joining a competitive USC dance team with aspirations to go to nationals was a mirage I hoped to one day reach. USC Zeher was a reputed intercollegiate dance team that travelled across the nation competing for a chance at nationals. The annual dues, travel costs, accommodation were not compensated for however, and posed as an obstacle for several talented dancers that ever dreamed of joining. Thanks to the GET foundation scholarship, finances were not hurdles I had to jump through. Therefore upon being recruited for the team I immediately said yes and started training, this is how I’ve made some of my best friends here at college, and travelled to some amazing places such as: Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC, New York, all in my first year in America. After a successful season with USC Zeher I’m elated to say I was a part of such a talented team that placed second at nationals. This is just an example of how this scholarship has given me the economic independence and freedom I needed to spread my ambitious wings and really spring into the plethora of opportunities college in America has to offer.

I’ve joined several clubs and organizations that not only aided my transition into college, but also have given me the tools to construct a balanced life here at USC filled with travel, successes, friends, hobbies, and passion building. The most integral part of this would still be that this was all done without burdening my family and kickstarting my independence as a young adult in the real world. I’m proud to say all my expenses this year were completely independent of my parents. Although it is said the best things in life are free, more often than not, college doesn’t seem to agree. The financial freedom I was fortunate enough to be bestowed upon me this year soon made me realize that I wouldn’t give it up for the world. Although considerably difficult to do for an international student, I’ve found a campus job to sustain myself post scholarship and hopefully not have to compromise neither my lifestyle nor experiences. This scholarship was just what I needed to jumpstart my college life and catapult me into living fearlessly, open arms to all the opportunities that have presented themselves.

This scholarship was more than just money, it was freedom and definitely key to the wondrously effable year I’ve been lucky enough to have. Gratefully, Aaliya Amrin

   2011  Winnie Yeung:        
   

Study abroad has been the dream of many since their very young age: It is a pursuit of freedom, of knowledge, of friendship, of cultural understanding. They are all correct depictions; yet each only exhibits a part of the whole enrichment process. These banners are the words emerging in people’s minds when leafing through brochures, but one needs actual experience to debunk the myths of studying abroad and reflect critically on the ideals mentioned above.

Coming from Hong Kong, a huge metropolitan city in Asia, I find Middlebury, Vermont distinctively different from any place that I have ever visited. A 7000 population! Twice a day bus routine! Cows! Farms! Varying temperature throughout the day. Even though I read so much about Vermont environment – my mental preparation did not seem sufficient.

The biggest of challenge of all is transportation. Hong Kong is so convenient that I can go anywhere by myself from 5am to midnight. In contrast, Vermont is very rural that you can only get around by cars because bus routes are sparse and sporadic. While other friends might say how they enjoy their weekend in Boston then another weekend in New York City, the Middkids (nickname for Middlebury students) stay in Middlebury. Sometimes looking out from the window, I feel that my life is buried under a pile of foliage, beautiful yet aloof. My mood also worsens, as the weather is gradually getting colder, embracing the tough winter challenge – an average of -15 degree Celsius in the winter.

Gradually I learnt how to take advantage of each season, encouraged by host family and friends – apple picking in the fall, learning how to ski in the winter, making S’mores around the fire, going to carnivals in the Spring and cycling across the fields in the summer. Different settings require you to change your way to enjoy life – though it took a while – but I managed and enjoyed many special Vermont moments that I captured with my camera and posted them on my wall in the dormitory.

Social interaction and academic learning are also important parts of the whole study abroad experience. Engaging in conversation outside of merely TV series, students with different religious backgrounds and ethnicity all come together to discuss their differences, consciously, and more often, subconsciously. Sometimes I feel not conversant enough on the American politics, but by listening, observing and most importantly asking, I benefited a lot from all these dining table discussion, fun but intellectually stimulating. My classroom expands from learning center to the lounge in my suite, learning even when I am sipping a cup of green tea.

There are still a lot of challenges ahead in my study abroad experience but I feel very grateful that I have come this far with the support of family, teachers and friends. A year seems short but it is indeed an eye-opening experience for a metropolitan girl to step into the rural side to learn how to make pancake with maple syrup. One would need an open mind and patience to continue to push himself through different occasion, daring enough to let himself fall several times on the snow in cold weather in order to learn how to ski, and eventually enjoy the adrenaline running through his blood.

   2010  Kayla Tam:        
   

Adapting to the lifestyle at Carleton College has been slow but rewarding. The town we are in, Northfield, is small and quiet unlike Hong Kong. While it is easy to get around in Hong Kong, it is difficult to shop for things or go anywhere without thoughtful traffic planning here since I do not know how to drive or own a car. From getting groceries to finding a restaurant, I have learnt to be patient, flexible and open-minded.

Apart from the environment, social interactions also take time to get use to. It seems obvious that if one is planning to study abroad, one should be ready to encounter differences and accept them. This is a little harder in practice because although I understand people are a little different from each other due to their cultures and personalities, I sometimes still need to remind myself to step out of my comfort zone to really understand other people. I graduated from Li Po Chun United World College but the experience of being submerged in a completely different culture and society is unlike studying at an international school, even though it was a United World College. The social context is different: though race does not matter to me, I have objectively ceased to be part of a majority. This has somehow added a shade of vulnerability on top of my being away from home but it has been an interesting process of discovering myself. I enjoy the challenges post to me like sorting out academic difficulties and daily trivia on my own. I have gradually come to terms with my ability to organize my life here in general.

The vigor of Carleton academics and the tranquility of Northfield lifestyle have given me numerous joyous moments such as taking inspiring classes taught by committed professors who are supportive of my studies and I love watching snow fall, beautifying the picturesque landscape of the campus. There are stunning amount of options at Carleton in terms of academics and extra-curricular activities with little pressure exerted by faculties or peers. I have been enjoying the freedom to be able to pilot my own progress and find my own motivation.

Being physically separated from Hong Kong has allowed me to reflect on things that I was not particularly passionate about before such as the politics, history and culture of Hong Kong. Despite my ambivalence, I feel more obliged to delve into these topics further because they begin to intrigue me as a more vivid part of my identity. I am fascinated to see what other directions my experience here at Carleton College will lead me.

   2010  Jeffrey Liu:        
   

Having lived in the States for more than 6 months, I want to share some of my fresh college experience at St. John’s College Annapolis, and summarize it into one word, inquiry. Inquiry is my attitude towards the world of knowledge.

I remember in my first reading of Platonic dialogues Meno that, Meno, a well-born Thessalian visitor to Athens put forward the famous Meno’s Paradox: how can one know anything? If one knows, he does not need to know anything. If one does not, he does not even recognize what he is seeking for. Thus, one cannot know anything, such as knowledge. Socrates responded with the idea of Recollection by the soul through proper inquiry, which so far I have yet a good apprehension. But I was intrigued by the possibility that inquiry might be a crucial way to resolve the Meno’s Paradox, which could hinder any search, or even passion for knowledge.

A typical inquiry in a Platonic dialogue, formed by two or sometimes more conversers, questions thoroughly that which some people claimed or professed to “know” and eventually finds out that they contradict themselves. Subsequently, Socrates’ claim, “I know that I don’t know,” was not a useless claim at all. My intepretation is that through inquiry, he distinguishes objective and subject truth; the former is also named “universal truth” or “knowledge”, the latter “opinion”. When we say that we know some knowledge, we might incline to take “opinions” as “universal truth”, which can be “wrong” and found faulty. In fact, no human being has ever claimed, in a deep sense, that she or he knows. So what have been we doing all the time since the birth of humanity? We might have been inquiring into finding the universal truth. But we should examine whether we have found it there yet. And such attitude seems fundamental to many Platonic dialogues and transcends pretentious claims of knowledge. My personal experience about inquiry is directly derived from the Great Book Program at St. John’s, the one and only curriculum here.

The Program allows us to read important books of Western Civilization, including philosophy, mathematics, natural science, history, politics, psycholgy, literature, and so on. Inquiry, still, is not only my Johnnie (a nickname for the students) attitude but also the major activity we do in this liberal arts college. Since there are no professors, seminar tutors regulate a small-sized class discussion about the assigned reading from the one hundred Great Books of. But no one is the authority on the table. I talk liberally from any personal perspective unrestricted by any specific academic discipline, unless it is irrelevant. Thus I inquire for the sake of the question, not for the sake of a discipline. Likewise, there is no need to abide by a textbook answer or definition, since there is none of them. All the texts we read are primary sources, ranging chronologically from ancient Greek translations to writings of modern thinkers. Therefore as a freshman, I must wrestle with the texts of ancient thoughts, for they are difficult and sometimes unintelligble to modern ears. In comparision with being lectured and taking notes on a subject in my previous schooling, the intellectual pursuit in seminar can sometimes be both collaborative and personal. Even though I seem to have less paperwork to produce on a reguar basis, I am much more passionate about what I wonder than I did in high school. In this way, I embrace more freedom to find out what I really like doing in future, or simply, what I am as a human being.

Another difference from high school experience is that I have more time that I am free to manage aside from attending classes. For my spare time, I enjoy singing in chorus group, learning how to write personal essays in Fine Art Workshop, sketching plants in the beautiful marsh near the College Creek, and especially, practising yoga and training in the College Crew Team. These various activities that I choose often make me feel integrated and motivated to pursue a more balanced and moderate lifestyle as a freshman Johnnie.

   2008  Hin Bong Lee:        
   

Just the word ‘change’ is not enough to describe the transition from the smallest school in Hong Kong to the largest Ivy League university. It took me a whole semester to get used to the many differences I find here at Cornell University. These differences include school work, extra-curricular opportunities, cultures, weather, food etc. Now I will share some of my experience as a freshman over the past six months. One thing that disappoints many college freshmen is that they are no longer at the top of their class like in high school. Students here all work hard and play hard. One should expect more competition and a completely different teaching style from Hong Kong’s schooling. For classes, I have taken many large introductory classes like Introduction to Microeconomics and Introduction to Psychology. These classes may have sizes up to more than a thousand students in a lecture hall. Here, learning takes place mostly from reading, reading and reading. I have once questioned myself to whether it is worth it to come all the way here to ‘self study’. There are several reasons why this is not just ‘self study’. First, learning through reading is part of the development of analytical skills and critical thinking. Second, as classes pass its introductory level, they will have a higher focus and smaller class size. Third, a large part of the education takes place outside the classroom and during discussions with professors and fellow classmates.

Speaking of outside the classroom, there are many extra-curricular opportunities. Unlike my high school, Cornell University is a much larger community. I was overwhelmed when I first arrived by all the unfamiliar faces, the size of the school and the variety of student organizations. At Cornell, there are more than twenty thousand people from all levels of undergraduates, graduates and professors. These people may have a wide variety of interests, from microbiology to ancient history, from snowboarding to opera. One thing that undergraduates should do is to find out where one belongs. Whether you like sports, arts or career development, there will always be other people in the school that share your interest. Get involved! Unlike high school, these groups do not come looking for you. You will have to go out and find them. One shall build his/her social network through work and play. Personally, I met most of my friends in basketball, international students’ orientation and the Hong Kong Student Association. These friends keep me company and help me through the anxiety of adjusting to the new environment.

Extreme weather, foreign food, differences in technology and lifestyle are not causing too much trouble for me. I have expected these ‘challenges’ ever since I’ve chosen to come to an old sub-urban university in the northeast. At times when it is negative twenty degrees out, when the oil from French fries and pizzas turns my stomach, or when walking around the tiny local malls (compared to super fancy malls in Hong Kong), I will miss home. However, to me, these are the little things that enrich my college experience. They make me proud of telling people that I’m from Hong Kong.

   2008  Sandi Li:        
   

My three-month experience in the University of Chicago, short as it may be, has changed my way of thinking. It begins my inquiry in myself and extends it to the bigger picture in the real world.

Crowned as the School of thought , the University of Chicago puts a strong emphasis to develop my critical thinking in not only the discipline I am focusing in, but also my attitudes towards life in general:

All along my life, I have tried to be a good daughter, a good student in school. I believe ‘virtues’ are the qualities that fulfill the expectation of my community. However, the University of Chicago tells me the other side of the story. From reading the Genesis to the Iliad and Plato, I examine a series of competing ways on asking and answering questions about human and civic excellence. I become more aware to the societal forces that shape me for who I am; I have a different understanding of words like ‘honors’ , ‘ignorance’ , ‘virtues’ . Up to this point, like my predecessors, I have yet to find out what truly constitute ‘virtues’ or ‘excellence’ . Indeed, the school has not taught me what ‘virtue’ is comprised of, but it begins my own inquiry in the subject. It makes me realize how and why I used to live in the society values and teach me to truly think outside the box. This is certainly not something that I would pay attention to before coming here.

The University of Chicago and the American political environment have triggered me not only to think critically upon my place in the society, but to cogitate analytically about the wider world as a whole and to see the world with different perspectives:

My experience in the Obama presidential election has shown me the relationship between the mass citizenry and government in the United States. At election night, my Afro-American roommate and my South Asian classmates both situated in the Hyde Park, listening closely to the future president's speech. Both groups enjoy the result of the manifestations of race in the political domain, though both groups have different points of views. While my roommate believes Obama as president signifies a rise of the Black, my South Asian classmates think Obama will bring a political change that help form unity in the society. Through comparing the similarities and differences in the two groups, I learn about why the ‘citizens’ here meets the conditions for a functioning democratic polity- they accept differences, if not appreciate. Instead of living in one single society, people here live in different ‘societies’ , with different social values. Different values interact, instead of compromise. The free flow of ideas here has allowed me to realize and accept the differences among people and learn about the world in a more open-minded way.

Education in the University of Chicago does not provide me with answers on anything, but it provokes me to think and to find my own answer. It allows me to realize ‘correct answers’ and ‘wrong answers’ are only relative qualities that are based on society judgment. I may as well find the one that suits me. It is nothing more gratifying than waking up every morning to realize I do not know, because by then, I can build up my knowledge, which is truly unique for me. Here, I would like to express my gratitude to the GET foundation and my parents for providing me this life-changing university experience.

   2007  Rosanne Hui:        
   

A whole new life opened before me as I stepped through the Van Wickle Gates of Brown University last September. “This is the happiest place to be”, they say, but I did not then know how far this level of happiness could go. As the excitement of orientation sank in and the classes and activities began to bloom, I dwelled in the busyness of all things anew and have almost forgotten to recognize this ‘prophecy-come-true’.

Now that four months have passed I would like to put my fragmented reflection into a temporary conclusion (I say temporary because there is so much more I have yet to experience!). I shall start with the routines of the week. ‘Routines’ could be boring, but it is not so when you enjoy all the classes you go to. Brown is renowned for the free curriculum it offers – the only academic requirement is the concentration course requirements, so students are free and encouraged to explore many fields of studies. Hence, for the courses that we take, we take them out of interest. In class I am surrounded by active learners who are passionate about the subject. Professors are helpful, approachable, and eager to share with us their knowledge. Even university facilities, such as the furniture and the conveniently-within-reach stationary in the library, help make learning an easy and fun thing to do. We are indeed responsible for our own education, but in so great a learning environment we are never alone in the process. Under the encouragement of the Brown education system as a whole, I have chanced myself into a combination of new courses I have never taken before.

Beyond the academics comes the fun of college life. We are given the opportunities to involve ourselves in new interests, if not just to continue our old ones. I was introduced to Brown’s very own theatre world through taking a small-scale acting class, and was then involved in a professionally staged show called the ‘City of Angels’. It was a lot of work at one time but the experience and fun are worth it. Being in a chamber music group with a flutist and a clarinetist is another new experience for me, since as a pianist I seldom had chance to play with other musicians. In this coming semester I am going to start taking organ lessons. All these are new excitements that I might not have experienced if it were not for Brown. I would say that to fully take advantage of college life, it is best to open your eyes to opportunities and take them in when by instinct you believe you will enjoy doing them.

Another great learning opportunity comes with the college boarding life. Living with friends does not only facilitate closer bonding but also allows for one to learn from another. For instance, I sometimes help my roommate from Seoul with her Chinese homework and she is teaching me Korean in return. Another friend showed me the healthy styles of living, while another impressed me with her extraordinary capacity for generosity and kindness, and another with her ultimate planning abilities. The list of my ‘student-teachers’ is endless, and I find it amazing how many great qualities you can discover in your friends. Learning from them is the most enjoyable education process ever.

One might worry about the problem of discrimination in a country so different from ours. Discrimination might occur at the immigration boarder, but not in college. At Brown, students befriend each other based on personality and not on race. In my own experience, I find most students interested in learning from other cultures; at the same time, when working together, for example in a music performance or in a theatre production, I am never treated differently because I am not American. This might have been the case because diversity even within the American community is huge. Brown also has an International Mentor Program that began from orientation week and continued throughout the year. It certainly helps quicken the process of turning the place into another home.

The only problems of living in America concern food and technology. Food in our canteen is seldom good enough to keep us going for more than a week, so I insist on dining out at least once every 7 days. Mobile reception is sometimes unstable so it is important to pick the best company in your area right at the beginning of the year. Common, cheap furniture cannot endure any degree of violence, so it is to your convenience that you purchase those of a standard quality. I believe that it will help make your life easier if you are aware of these problems and avoid them as best you could.

I would not have had such an eye-opening experience were it not for my parents and GET foundation. My sincerest gratitude to them for giving me the opportunity to learn so much more than I thought I would. My perspectives might change depending on what I experience, but these are my impressions of my journey so far. I hope they are useful in helping you prepare for yours.


   2006  Vincent Kan:        
   

From high school to college, from one of the largest and busiest metropolis to a small, peaceful town, from being surrounded with love and support from family and friends to learning how to be independent, from being part of the racial majority to the minority – who would ever think that I could adapt to life in the University of Virginia (UVA) that quickly? In the blink of an eye, I have already been studying in UVA for one whole semester. The dormitories, dining halls, classrooms and even the squirrels on grounds (a UVA lingo meaning “on campus”) have now become familiar to me. Having lived in Hong Kong for over ten years, I found Charlottesville a very new and strange environment initially. However, the friendliness and hospitality of the Americans have made it easier for an international student like me to adapt to life abroad. With its beautiful and green settings, the so-called “hick town” is very peaceful and has very few “temptations” or “distractions”, providing a wonderful learning and living environment (apart from the food) for students in UVA. Ever since I arrived here, I learn to slow my pace and enjoy every bit of life (including work) to its fullest. University has proved to be a more thrilling experience than I ever would imagine – definitely much more than books and lectures. During this semester, I was engaged in a variety of activities, including badminton, various leadership trainings and diversity workshops. Although everybody has diverse talents and backgrounds, there are times when all of us come together, such as during football games and music performances. I still remember the first football game I ever went to – the spectacular orange sea of UVA supporters, the cheerleaders and all the slogans that motivate the players on the field. During these occasions, I could feel the spirit and a strong sense of belonging to this 182-year-old school built by Thomas Jefferson. One of the hugest difficulties I have yet come across in the States concerns my race. Self segregation has been a very serious problem in the UVA community. Racial minorities, such as African-Americans and Asians often self segregate themselves and only put an effort into meeting people of their own race. The numerous ethnic student organizations and mentoring programs further aggravate the problem. During the first few weeks of school, I only hanged out with other Chinese but after thinking about my purpose of studying abroad, I knew that I had to step out of my comfort zone. By not confining myself to Asian activities and gatherings, I have befriended people from different ethnic backgrounds, thus enriching my university life immensely. As you may have figured out already, I have been through a lot of unique experiences I would not have had if I was not studying in the States. Hereby, I would like to thank my family, my friends, my high school and the GET foundation for giving me support to make this decision – a decision I will never regret.

Experience on dealing with bank problem

It all started with me going to the bank to deposit my scholarship check from the GET foundation. Since I was not too sure how banks in the US work, I asked the lady at the counter whether I needed to have the check endorsed by my school first because it was issued to both me and UVA. She probably did not quite understand me since she took my check despite the missing endorsement and told me that the money would be available in a week’s time. However, the money was still not there after 2 weeks and nobody from the bank had contacted me whatsoever. Feeling puzzled, I approached the bank myself and found out that the money was held due to the missing endorsement. More unfortunately, the bank has somehow lost my check, making it impossible for the school to endorse it. To make the situation even more troublesome, people at the bank did not seem to know what they could do for me and were very inefficient in their work. I contacted Mr. Gordon Tam to seek for help. He kindly gave me a lot of advice and helped me retrieve a copy of the cancelled check. The problem was eventually resolved, but lasted for more than two months’ time. Although I would not say that this incident involves discrimination of any kind, I have learnt that it is very important for international students to stand up for their rights. Do not hesitate to ask for help and argue, or else people may easily take advantage of you!


   2006  Michelle Wong:        
   

At the wink of an eye it’s my fourth week in Wellesley College. International Orientation and General Orientation were lots of fun, when I stood amazed at the stunningly beautiful campus and experienced the fluctuating weather of New England.

Now that the school year kicks in and the honeymoon days of Orientation wear off, I have been showered with the unique atmosphere of Wellesley College. The campus has shrunk a bit in size as I familiarized myself with it; nonetheless it remains a place where my heart feels at peace. Since the College follows a liberal arts education, every one of us is encouraged to have a balanced program of courses for each semester. The system may seem a bit confusing at first, and the courses challenging too. Yet there is always someone to go to when one needs help or advice. Just go forward and ask.

At times it seems too surreal – not only am I now thousands of miles away from home, the scale of exposure to knowledge, insight and resources I embrace is one that I have never imagined. Professors are passionate about what they are doing while students try their utmost to seek and achieve their goals in life.

One may be interested in Wellesley’s college life because it is an all women’s college. It is true that the College is mostly populated with females, yet it is not as dreadful as some would have pictured. The wonderful city of Boston is only one hour far away. Besides, the sisterhood among students is exceptional and genuine. Traditions that have been practiced since the establishment of the College, such as Flower Sunday, keep Wellesley as special a place as it is.

Diversity, be it cultural or spiritual, is widely celebrated here. International students make up 10% of a class in Wellesley, so there are about 50 of us each class, well taken care of by the International Students Centre. The bonding among us is especially strong, as we know we do face similar frustrations, worries and adjustments. The friendship my Wellesley sisters and I have built, and will share, be they American or international, is something I treasure.

I have no doubt that there will be numerous challenges looming up. Be afraid not as you never travel alone. One acquires new perceptions and emerges stronger and anew through adversities. As I venture further into my college journey I bear in mind what Paulo Coelho wrote in his renowned novel of “The Alchemist”, ‘I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure’. And I hope you all who are wading towards the unknown future share the same excitement as I do.

   2005  Nehemiah Chu:        
   

There has been no looking back since I arrived at Calvin College. The students are friendly, the courses are challenging, and the atmosphere is wonderful. American colleges and universities have a reputation for hard partying, but that has not been the case here. A big part of that is because Calvin College is a Christian private college, and it is also a dry campus, meaning no alcohol is allowed on campus. The American law restricts people under the age of 21 from consuming alcohol. This was a surprise, and I was also surprised that most people obeyed the rules. Of course, there will always be those who want to “have fun”, but the peer pressure is mostly positive. I have found that very encouraging.

Independence is a big part of college life, but I think discipline is even more important. Setting your priorities is easy, but sticking to them is difficult. There are so many activities available on campus, from concerts to Bible studies to sporting events. That does not even include the times your friends want you to hang out with them. It can be easy to forget schoolwork, or to put it off and procrastinate so that you can please your friends and attend countless events. Having the discipline to say “no” is essential. Real friends would understand your priorities and respect them, not try to pull you away from them. Be careful to choose friends that build you up.

College is a wonderful time when you will build memorable relationships. By building these relationships, you can balance out

your studious life with fun and relaxation. If the balance is ever disrupted, do not be afraid to seek help, either from trained professionals at the college or from family back home. Be open to new opportunities and make the most out of the tuition you are paying. This will result in a rich education that will be priceless in the future.