A new land. A new territory. A new adventure…
Everything will be new, or so it seems. I can imagine, if you are a newly admitted student, how complicated your feelings must be. You are excited, you are overwhelmed, and you are nervous as you prepare to bid farewell to your high school career and move on to college. If you are an international student, you might feel even more so, knowing that your family may have to travel a long way to visit you, and that it will take a long time to reunite with your current friends.
For international students like myself, it’s undeniably daunting to think about this new experience at first. Leaving your home, adjusting to a different lifestyle, having to deal with the sometimes too-slow Internet connection when you Skype with your family and friends, working out the time difference between Claremont and where you have been calling home… Yes, I’ve felt all these emotions. Instead of sharing them with you today to empathise with you, I write instead to enumerate all the resources Pomona provides in order to help you with the adjustment to college, and to flourish in this unique environment.
You might have read my previous blog posts about some of these resources. For your convenience, here is a list of resources (which surely is not comprehensive) of which I have personally taken much advantage, as well as links to a few of my previous blog entries on Voices:
- ISMP (International Student Mentor Program): Each international student is assigned a mentor who can informally answer questions about pretty much anything a first-year student would like to know. If they don’t have a specific answer, they can help point you to the right sources. ISMP mentors also organize an array of events to help international students tradition into the new academic and social atmosphere.
- AAMP (Asian American Mentor Program): AAMP also pairs freshmen up with mentors and hosts AAMP snacks almost every week on Thursday nights. You might have heard about the “snack” tradition at Pomona already. Well, the perks of being a student at Pomona include free food for thought, which energizes you as you continue studying. AAMP snacks often feature food and drink items from different Asian countries. Even if you do not identify as an Asian American, you are also welcome to join these events.
- CSA (Chinese Student Association): Studying abroad in the USA may mean that you can’t get easy access to your home food or celebrate your home festivities the way you have always celebrated them. No worries! Organizations like CSA consistently organize events where you can participate in various cultural events. Like other mentor groups on campus, CSA is also very inclusive. It provides opportunities for non-Chinese students to learn about Chinese culture through organizing events like Chinese New Year celebrations, Chinese theatre productions, etc.
- Sponsor groups: You might have read much about this Pomona jargon, so I won’t give too much information here. However, having a sponsor group is a truly unique part of my first-year experience.
- QSC (Quantitative Skills Center), Writing Center, FLRC (Foreign Language Reosources Center), mentor sessions, study groups, office hours: We attend a small liberal arts college that spends a lot of money to help us learn. Academically, there are many resources in different disciplines that Pomona offers. Plus, you can always organize your own study sessions with peers. A lot of the times, those discussions spark moments of epiphany that you will truly appreciate.
- The main library + smaller department libraries + the lovely Denison Library at Scripps College nearby: Whether you are looking for a quiet study space, a cozy environment surrounded by books, or a space where you can get some coffee while studying, you can easily get access to all of them. I love the Denison Library at Scripps in particular, which is around a 10-15 minutes walk from my dorm, because it has a very tranquil atmosphere.
- Others: It’s natural to feel stressed and overwhelmed at times. Before finals week, Pomona organizes a range of de-stress activities known as the “destress fest”, where you get to hang out with adorable puppies and enjoy extra snacks.
My blog posts on Voices
Let’s end this discussion (for now) with a little anecdote. I, who never, ever stay up at night, found myself frenzily typing at 4 a.m. when I returned from my OA (Orientation Adventure) trip. I wanted to record all of the memories, all of the new experiences whose details may fade away bit by bit, day by day, night be night.
I challenge you to do the same when you arrive on campus. If you ever meet me, please say hi and share your thoughts. More importantly, I encourage you to take advantage of all of the resources that Pomona has to offer.