BackgroundInterview Date:December 2018
Gender Identity: Non-Binary
Race/Ethnicity: South Asian
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
Graduation Year: 2022
High School Experience: Private school in Northern Virginia, with a graduating class of about 500 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: All-campus Orchestra, radio, I make short films with a club called Redlist, and Kilachand Honors College.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Both Redlist and radio have had a big impact. I was considering majoring in film, and working with Redlist helped me decide I eventually want to. Radio has helped give me a sense of community through the transition of freshman year.
What has been your favorite class so far?
One of my favorites was The Making of Modern Britain. It’s a history class about the beginnings of imperialist Europe. It goes through imperialist England and the colonies in particular.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s more collaborative, especially coming from a very competitive [high school] environment. There are fewer people breathing down your neck, which allows you to enjoy learning instead of getting stressed out about it. Overall the community has a lot of people you can go to for guidance or help, which makes it more collaborative.
How accessible are your professors?
Pretty accessible. I’ve been able to find them at office hours pretty easily.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Kilachand Hall with 1 roommate and 2 suitemates.
How was transitioning from Northern Virginia to Boston, MA in terms of location?
It was tough. It wasn’t super cold last semester, but finding new people to hang out with and trust made it a tough first two months.
What made it a tough two months?
Changing sceneries in part, but also being around new people and the expectations placed on you. All of the sudden you’re thrown into being an adult, so you have to think about what that means and how to balance everything. You have to learn how to feel that you’re worthy of trying new things, and can explore new things without feeling that you are wasting time.
Do you think moving to a city made you feel that you were becoming an adult faster?
A little bit in part. It has forced me to be more comfortable with my surrounds and what’s going on. It also forces me to keep in mind that I have a list of things to get done in a certain amount of time, and there isn’t anyone there to give you an extension if you don’t get it done.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I feel pretty safe in general, especially when I’m with other people.
Pros and Cons of being in Boston, MA?
1) You can easily go into the city if you want to go out during the weekends.
2) If you are looking for jobs or internships, there is easy transportation into the city.
3) It forces you to become more comfortable with yourself, and to explore more things.
1) Sometimes the transportation gets messed up, and the Green Line shuts down randomly so you have to figure out how to plan your day.
2) You have to make sure you know where your stuff is at all times in the city.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
Going out to eat with people and going to the suburbs to visit family friends. I have radio on the weekends at night, and I’m not too much of a party kid. I would go to more performances if I knew where they were. I also participate in performances with orchestra.
How has identifying as LGBT influenced your weekends or nightlife experience?
It influences it in the sense that I’m less willing to go out to parties, but again I’m not a party person in the first place. Even if there are parties where I know people it makes me a little more uncomfortable because I’m not accustomed to that scene, so it’s hard to get used to.
What are some of your favorite events to go to?
I really like going to talks on campus. The speakers that come are really interesting, and there was one on Palestinian mental health. The radio events are always a ton of fun, and tend to have music playing where you can relax with people you know.
How happy are you with the weekend options at BU? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I wish there was more of a Muslim community at BU. More events and a community to go out with would be a lot of fun. As far as I know I can’t find those people, but they might be around. [Editor’s Note: The Islamic Society of Boston University is the only student club we could find that revolves around the Muslim faith at B.U.]
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met one in a group chat before coming to school, and my suitemate. Sometimes I meet them in classes, and somehow randomly get dinner then become friends. It’s unexpected.
How would you describe the social scene?
I’m normally among people in the [Kilachand Honors College], so I can’t speak to the rest of it. In terms of the honors college, it’s welcoming but there can be a lot of drama [because it’s a small community]. Otherwise, it’s a welcoming space overall without much antagonism toward each other.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix on campus?
They mix a fair amount. At BU we are predominately White. This is obvious when I go to a talk on Black Lives Matter and I am the only brown person there other than the speaker. There is mixing, but at the same time, there is a need for spaces where it can be more POC oriented. [BU’s undergraduate population is 10% Hispanic, 3% Black, 42% White, and 12% Asian.]
Do you feel more so like you’re a resident of Boston than a student at BU?
No, I feel that as much as BU is integrated into Boston, there is a divide between being a student or a resident of the city. There are lots of things going on in the city that students don’t know about.
How accepted have you felt as a Muslim student?
I have felt fairly accepted. It’s definitely an improvement from home where there wasn’t a comfortable space. Here, people don’t act disrespectfully and will accommodate me a lot of times, which is great. This has definitely been an improvement.
How do you like the size of BU in terms of undergraduate enrollment? [BU has 16,792 undergraduates.]
It’s been good for me because I’m not necessarily the type of person to know everyone that’s walking around. There is room to meet people at BU that you may not have connections to, which is interesting because you can have your own niches of people depending on what you want to do. Being part of the Kilachand Honors College has been a good part of BU because it gives you a small college within a big college. There are environments where everyone knows your name, and environments where nobody knows your name.
How strong is the LGBTQ community on campus?
It’s pretty strong, not in terms of organizing, but in terms of being present and proud. Everyone is pretty open, but I haven’t seen many [LGBTQ] organizations and haven’t been to many events because I’m not super into those. Overall, it’s pretty loud and proud.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I’ve gone to figure out where my major should fall, how to pick up internships, and what strategies I can do to narrow down what I want to do and how to experiment with those things. It’s been a positive experience, and the people are pretty nice.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Boston University before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew it was important to meet your advisors to build rapport when you first get here. It’s important to have that confidence and relationship with the advisors because it makes it easier to navigate through, and figure out career choices and where you’re going.
What is something a prospective South Asian or Muslim student should know that we haven’t touched on?
For a lot of South Asian kids coming in, it’ll be hard to find people at first. It’s not that there is a lack of these students, but it’s hard to find them in concentrated areas. If you seek out people with similar backgrounds as you, you’ll find them. To prospective Muslim students, try and set up a community because there are lots of students who wish there was this community to be with and rely on.
What is something a prospective LGBTQ student should know that we haven’t touched on?
For LGBTQ students, I’ve had trouble with my mental health. If students feel that, go to student counselors as soon as possible because I know sometimes people wait until they come to college, but you should seek the resources as quickly as possible.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Walk the entire length of Commonwealth Avenue, because I don’t think people realize how big it is until they walk the entire thing to get to class. Take your time to enjoy the sites, and know where they are.
Reasons to attend Boston University:
1) It has a great student body. It’s been a positive experience for a lot of people.
2) People are willing to learn, and it’s collaborative where people are willing to help you out if you say hi.
3) It’s a nice way to get to know a city that isn’t too daunting. It’s a good way to get accustomed to city living.
Reasons to not attend Boston University:
1) It’s expensive.
2) The student body isn’t as diverse as you probably think it is.