Hi! My name is Nitya Sudarshan from Mumbai, India. I will be writing about what Brown is like as an international student, and my many experiences that helped me make Brown my home really far away from home.
For the last few weeks, I have encountered college tours at Brown almost everyday when I am walking between classes. I also host prospective students for Experience Brown, and almost all of them are visiting other east coast colleges before heading back home. One of the questions I almost always get asked is, “What is different about Brown?” This really got me thinking about my application process, how I chose to apply to the colleges I applied to and why I picked Brown. I also thought about what my ideas about Brown were before I came here, where I got the information from, and whether my ideas about Brown have evolved since I have been here.
To start with, as an international student visiting colleges, going for information sessions and campus tours is not as casual and easy as it is if you live in the United States. You cannot just leave home for a weekend to look at a couple of colleges. And if at all you do get the chance to visit colleges, you will probably not be able to go look at them again to make sure you really like the campus before you choose to go there.
The first time that I saw Brown’s campus, or was even in Providence, was when I started freshman year. I did not know what the city was like, I did not know what the dorms and the campus was like, what the weather was like, or even what the people were like. All of my information about Brown, and the information that I based my decision to choose Brown on, was through secondary sources – through the Brown website, through student blogs, through friends at Brown and through friends who had been to Brown.
I realised that international students come to Brown in a very different headspace from that of students who are from within the country. We come to college feeling a strong sense of distance from home, often not looking forward to going home for Thanksgiving or Spring Break because home is just too far away. More than anything, I felt like I came to Brown without a clear idea of what to expect. But that, in a way, adds to the excitement.
When I am asked about what differentiates Brown, my answer is almost always the warmth that people – both students and the administration here – has. Everyone is so thoughtful, and especially as a college freshman, they do understand that it is not just about starting at a new academic institution, but also a lot about starting a new routine and adjusting to a new kind of life. That sense of constant support was what eventually made Brown a familiar and comfortable home, despite the fact that I could not visit before I actually started here as a student.
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