Incoming International Students Adjust to Upstate NY, College Life

October 23, 2009

Eleven international students joined the Class of 2013 this fall. These students come from the Bahamas, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, South Africa, China, the United Kingdom, Finland, and Sweden. Orientation programs and other resources are available to help these students transition to Hartwick.

"We offer support with cultural adjustment and emphasize how important it is to the campus that they are here," said Jenifer Chambers, Director of International Programs and the Center for Interdependence.

"Our office has really tried to increase programming in the past year," added International Student Advisor and Off-Campus Program Coordinator Emily Quackenbush. "I try to be accessible all day."

Quackenbush encouraged the campus community to welcome these students by attending International Club events as well as reaching out to each student independently.

"Make an effort individually to ask them to lunch, or to form study groups," Quackenbush said. "Get to know them. They do want to fit in."

Cleyon Brown '13 and Jaime Taboada '13 took different paths to Hartwick. Brown was recruited to play soccer and comes from Kingston, Jamaica. Taboada had a connection to a former student and comes from Barranquilla, Colombia.

Brown is an accounting major while Taboada is in the engineering program.

"I am interested in industrial engineering," Taboada said. "I like the idea of solving problems."

Both students admitted that the academic rigor of college required some adjusting.

"I can't get into a routine," Taboada said. "In high school, I was up by seven every morning. Here one class might be at a certain time, the next day another time. I am trying to adapt to a lot of work. I usually understand lecture material really fast, so that helps."

"The work is different," Brown agreed. "In Jamaica we have tests every six weeks and homework every day. Here you get three quizzes per week in some classes and that pushes you to do more work. After the first test, when I see how the teachers grade, I'll have a better idea of what to expect."

Brown added that he had taken on a leadership position since his arrival.

"I am VP of Smith Hall Council. I've been in leadership roles before. I was a prefect as a senior in high school. A prefect is a student in charge of the lower grades in the classroom," Brown explained.

Taboada mentioned that he enjoyed socializing and planned to join a fraternity.

"I like playing pool and ping-pong," Taboada said. "For TV I like Lost, Heroes, and Two and a Half Men."

Neither student found the cultural adjustment difficult since both had spent time in the United States before coming to Hartwick.

"I took vacations to Miami, Las Vegas, New York City, Philadelphia, and others," Taboada said. "New York City and Las Vegas are the best cities in the world."

"I visited New York City. I saw Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty," Brown added.

"Last year I was at a prep school [Berkshire School] in Sheffield, Massachusetts. I thought Hartwick would be similar to prep school. There Division 1 hockey was the sport. I like that soccer is the number-one sport here."

Brown encouraged the Hartwick community to support the soccer team as a way to reach out to the freshman international students.

"We have a lot of students from other countries on the soccer team," Brown said. "When you support the soccer team, you support the international students. We have our own little family on campus. It's nice to have that."

Taboada added, "If you have a good group of friends, you'll get along anywhere."

By Alicia Walstad '10

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive Liberal Arts in Practice curriculum merges traditional liberal arts study, personalized teaching, and experiential learning approaches to emphasize Connecting the Classroom to the World. Add to that a wide range of off-campus internships, collaborative research, study-abroad opportunities, and a unique January Term, and Hartwick prepares students for the world ahead. Strong financial aid and scholarship programs keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030