We sat down recently with an exceptional student Michael, as he reflected on his inaugural semester. He shared memorable highlights and challenges and talked about adopting to new environment. 

Expectations and Diverse Connections

Coming into college, my hopes centered on meeting new people from diverse backgrounds and broadening my horizons. My initial expectations of connecting with individuals from different countries have been met. I have met people from Italy, Cape Verde, Ireland, El Salvador, Ukraine, Morocco, Egypt, and more. This international exposure has enriched my understanding of various cultures and perspectives.

Check out Michael’s first essay.

First Semester Highlights

I successfully earned a place on the Dean’s List, a testament to my dedication and hard work. Furthermore, my knowledge about Maryville, Tennessee, expanded, and I am now an active member of the Student Conduct Board, contributing to maintaining a positive campus environment. I also serve as the Vice President of the Global Citizenship Organization, helping to amplify global visibility on campus. 


However, only some things went as smoothly as expected during my initial semester. Traveling, for instance, posed a significant challenge. I once found myself stranded at a mall due to the unavailability of transportation options, which was a distressing experience. This taught me the importance of informing someone about my whereabouts and avoiding solitary outings. In the future, I plan to rely on friends for rides and keep alternative transportation choices in mind.

Academic Pursuits

I undertook four courses during the semester, and while most were manageable, I initially struggled with English 110. Despite my proficiency in English, grasping the course dynamics proved challenging. This subject turned out to be my favorite. The instructor’s practical teaching style and willingness to assist students made the learning experience enjoyable. Despite the challenges of transitioning to a new country, my academic performance remained commendable.

As time progressed, I began to truly identify courses I am passionate about, which normally include Neuroscience. I thoroughly enjoy learning about the brain and the body’s world perception. Through this, I hope to impact the world by researching to understand the intricacies of the nervous system.



Adjustment and Cultural Experiences

Adapting to a new environment takes time, and while I haven’t completely adjusted, I anticipate a smoother transition next semester. The cultural differences have been striking, particularly regarding food and social interactions. The unfamiliar cuisine and the willingness of strangers to engage in conversations have been my foremost culture shock experiences. Additionally, making friends was challenging, attributed to the stark contrast in cultural backgrounds.

On-Campus Living

Living on campus has both its pros and cons. The sense of community and ease of accessibility are definite advantages. The presence of Resident Assistants has been invaluable in ensuring a smooth transition. Conversely, the communal bathrooms have proven to be less enjoyable. Living on campus is extremely beneficial, as it keeps students near academic resource support 24/7/. My favorite campus meal, fried rice, has provided a taste of familiarity from my home country.

Favorite Hangout Spot

The international house on campus has become my preferred hangout spot. It offers a space for global interaction, complete with a kitchen, TV, and comfortable seating. There is also a nice kitchen area, which allows international students to prepare our traditional food with a great deal of convenience. 

Future Endeavors

My first semester in college was a journey filled with highs and lows, valuable experiences, and meaningful connections. As I look forward to the upcoming semester, I am armed with lessons from the past and a determination to make the most of my academic and personal endeavors.

I aim to complete assignments promptly and embrace the opportunity to connect with new individuals and explore diverse cuisines. Reflecting on the past semester, I have learned that challenges can be transformed into valuable lessons and growth opportunities.