My first year at a glance

Story by

Aahana Bajracharya




Natural Sciences



For many people the experience of coming to an American university might have been one of transitioning into a large school environment. It was the opposite for me. Having studied in a large school setting up until the 2nd year in high school and then the remaining 2 years in a small school setting gravitated me to choose a small Liberal Arts college for my undergraduate studies. The concept of a liberal arts education seems to be unheard of in my country Nepal. I received some skeptic remarks regarding my choice of a Liberal Arts College but I’ve come to realize what matters most is the experience that you gain through any opportunity at hand. The decision to come to the United States is a turning point in my life to experience new things, trying out how I would fare in totally abstract concepts and finding something that I see myself building my career in.

While having conversations with my friends in my country, I was often asked, what I would study here but I probably surprised them by saying that I was going to explore. They must have found it weird that I did not have a specific answer. But, the whole point of me choosing a Liberal Arts College was to get a chance to explore the courses that would interest me and make reasoned decisions on choosing a field of study. That is something totally different from the education system in Nepal. Here, I have the option of choosing the subjects of my interest by exploring them not only superficially but through classes. I feel like this option best fit my needs and learning style.

Getting praised for one’s works definitely feels good and thus gives an incentive to do better. I got the appreciation from faculty and fellow friends on the fact that though hailing from a distant part of the world, I did have a fairly good command in their native language and more so had the ability to perform equally well in them. It was encouraging to know that international students have been setting up their mark through their academic performance and so the faculty already has some form of expectation from you. This has turned out to be positive in my case. I got appreciated for my academic performance in the form of honors in being named a President’s Scholar and also went on to become the chapter President of an academic honor society of my class.

Being active outside of class activities might seem to be an extra pursuit but it actually goes along with your studies to make a complete academic experience. I realized this when my Professor wanted to know what else I had been involved in beside my classes while he was to write me a recommendation letter for a campus leadership position. Moreover due to the small student body at my college, activities play an integral part in campus life and even the classes are structured in a way that allows you to incorporate these activities into your schedule. I would not deny that there came a time when I was under the pressure of handling my studies and my academics as I had not anticipated the classes to pick up pace too quickly. But all of these pursuits did teach me the value of managing my time and I’m glad that I learnt this early on.

Opportunities come your way if you seek for it, being involved in activities, trying out classes out of my major, allowed me to know different kinds of people and enhance my social skills. The barrier of culture never again became a problem in communicating my ideas through. I met people who had never heard of my country before and for some it was the first time ever meeting a person from Nepal. But, I’m glad that I get to represent my country here and set an example on their first perspective of a different country. It has been a great year trying new things, experiencing a wide range of activities and finally finding my academic niche on a unique academic discipline of Neuroscience and Applied Mathematics.

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