A new school year commences. In the sea of SAS students milling around the cafeteria, it isn’t uncommon to see several unfamiliar faces huddled around Subway or Mr. Hoe’s famous cafeteria offerings. Even as we finish the first few months of the new semester it is very likely that you haven’t memorized the names of all the new students in your grade, much less in the whole high school.
Imagine what it must be like to not be able to recognize a single person or place. Being an International School, SAS students are fairly used to making new friends and adapting to new surroundings. In International Schools, people come and go all the time; but what about when International School students move on to a new chapter of their lives – college. Even at SAS, by the time we reach high school, the number of new students coming in is minimal. In many cases, students have had four years to perfect relationships with friends and teachers alike. Now they are in a position where all are starting afresh and need to create these connections once again.
What are these kids worried about as they walk into their first class? How do they feel when they finally finish setting up their dorm room? How will they stay in touch with their friends and family? What are the thoughts they have as they reach the place they will be spending the next four years at? These are the some of the things I asked three newly enrolled college freshman from around the world (Hersh Singh, Raagini Sarkar, and Nono Sugawara).
What school did you and will you be attending:
Nono: Singapore American School Class of 2017, Oxford University Class of 2020
Raagini: Dubai American Academy Class of 2017, George Washington University Class of 2021
Hersh: Singapore American School Class of 2017, Syracuse University Class of 2021
What made you choose the school in the first place:
Nono: The course of study that I get to take there. When you apply to the UK, you have to choose your major as a part of your application. Philosophy, psychology, and linguistics were the humanities-oriented version of cognitive science that I wanted to pursue. I researched several schools, and as far as I looked, Oxford was the only one that offered it as a comprehensive, multi-perspective major.
Raagini: While GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs is ranked fairly high for undergraduate programs in international relations, its metropolitan location of Foggy Bottom, Washington D.C. presents countless opportunities in the realm of both international affairs and domestic politics. This was one of the major factors in determining my choice of the Elliott school as I knew that, by choosing Elliott, l would inevitably be immersing myself in one of the most politically active cities in the world.
Hersh: For me, Syracuse was all about a really great package. Financially, it was a good option because they gave me some money – more than my other schools. Additionally, Syracuse was one of my top five schools on my list given my desired major.
What are you most excited about college?
Nono: Honestly, the learning. throughout my high school career, I had been able to choose some of my courses, but not all of them as there have been a specific number “core” required classes. This will be the first time that I will be able to take courses that I’m interested in, and not have to take other mandatory classes. Also, the college has cool libraries, cafes, and bars, and I’m really excited to be able to spend time in those.
Raagini: I am most excited to truly explore my intellectual curiosity and passion in international affairs in an environment that specializes in exactly that. Other than that, I am excited to live in a city that has seasons, unlike Dubai!
Hersh: I think that I am most excited about meeting new people in college that have both similar and different interests to my own. I’m also looking forward to living in the US again after ten years living internationally. Finally, I’m excited to go to a school focuses on both academic rigor and students networking and having a social life.
Is there anything you are particularly nervous about besides the workload and academic rigor?
Nono: I think I’m most nervous about making friends as funny as it sounds. What if everyone is rude or pretentious? What if I’m not as smart as the people I study with and got into the school just through luck? Or on the other hand, what if everyone just wants to study and I can’t relate to them? I know that these are irrational things to worry about, but sometimes you can’t help it. I do understand that I won’t know these things until I get there though.
Raagini: Being in charge of feeding myself appropriately and doing my own laundry substantially stresses me out 🙂
Hersh: Of course, the academic rigor of the school is nerve-racking, but being in charge of yourself and being completely independent is also pretty scary. Learning to balance my time, eating and sleeping at appropriate hours, and just sort of learning how to manage my home-life responsibilities.
What are your general thoughts on entering this new phase of your life?
Nono: I’m both scared and excited. I’m nervous about the amount of responsibility that I need to have and the increased amount of consequences that are going to be placed on my actions. However, at the same time, it’s so exciting to live alone, without a curfew, and to be in complete control of your own life for the first time.
Raagini: Honestly, entering this phase of life was extremely bittersweet for me as I essentially had to completely let go of my childhood and family. While this was a difficult transition to make, I am also extremely excited about experiencing independence and adulthood.
Hersh: My general thought on college is that it’s meant to be the best four years of your life, and I’m really excited to experience it for myself. It’s another milestone; a time where you make friends, relationships, and connections that will last a lifetime, and at the same time you get a degree and complete a portion of your education.
As expected, the journey to college comes with speed bumps, some that you expect before going, and some that you don’t. Being nervous is natural, but knowing that these sentiments are common can give you a sense of reassurance that you aren’t alone no matter where you decide to go!