What It’s Like ... to Start College in a New Country

September 24, 2018

By Rob Humphreys ’16MBA

Students have lunch in the Campus Center.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Going to school halfway across the globe comes with challenges and uncertainty, but as first-year student Aditya Das ’22 discovered, Rollins is there to lend support each step of the way.

Alfond Scholar Aditya Das ’22 is a philosophy major from Calcutta, India, who aspires to work for the United Nations on issues of women’s equality and gender rights. On August 19, he and other first-year international students got a head-start on their Rollins journey through a three-day pre-orientation program. Today, Das is more excited than ever about the opportunities that await him.

Apart from visiting Rollins for Scholars Weekend back in February, I had never been to the United States. Everything was new to me, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I arrived on campus last month.

But let me tell you—the whole experience has been a dream come true.

From participating in the long-standing tradition of Candlewish to meeting his fellow Rollins College Conference (RCC) students in Theatre of Ideas, Aditya Das ’22 jumped into his Rollins journey head-first.Photos by Scott Cook.

First, without the Alfond Scholarship, I never could have afforded to leave India for college. The financial assistance is only part of the story, though. Ever since I stepped foot on campus, the Rollins community has given me unconditional support in so many other areas as well.

During pre-orientation, the Office of International Student & Scholar Services (OISSS) paired me up with seven other first-year international students from countries in Europe, Africa, and South America—and we’ve all grown very close over the past few weeks. One of our most memorable activities was volunteering to clean toys at a children’s nursery as part of SPARC Day. I love that Rollins encourages you to find ways to serve the community right from the start.

The College also gave us a document called “Passport to Rollins,” and that cleared up just about every question I had—things like: Which address can I ship mail to? What’s the size of my dorm room? And how can I get a job on campus?

A college student laughs along with classmates in a first-year class.
During his first week at college and his first in the U.S., Aditya Das ’22 was quick to make connections both in and outside the classroom.Photo by Scott Cook.

On a more personal level, my peer advisor through OISSS, Kristal Alicea ’20, has played a big part in helping me make a smooth transition. She’s also an international student, so it wasn’t too long ago that she was in the exact same situation. Kristal and my friends from pre-orientation are what I cherish most about my time here.

Once school started, someone I connected with right away was philosophy professor Eric Kenyon, who co-teaches my RCC class, Theatre of Ideas. Because Dr. Kenyon is my faculty advisor, he’s very aligned with my interests—just the person to help me achieve my career and academic goals and to guide me on my journey.

New international students meet with Peg Cornwell, the president’s wife.
Aditya Das ’22 makes new friends at a diversity meet-and-greet at the President’s house.Photo by Scott Cook.

Also, as part of RCC, I have two upper-class peer mentors in Rachel Wasserman ’19 and Mary Vickers ’20. Rachel is a fellow philosophy major, and Mary is a double major in international relations and Spanish. I want to continue in their fields of study, so they’ve given me advice on what classes to take, what social activities to consider, and what to expect, in general, as a student.

Looking ahead, the only goal I’ve set for my first semester is to continue discovering things I’m interested in. And I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Thanks to Rollins, I’m blessed not only to have the opportunity of a lifetime, but also a great set of friends—and a very supportive campus community—to embark on an exciting new chapter in life.

A Rollins professor leads a discussion in an outdoor classroom.

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