BackgroundInterview Date:April 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Graduation Year: 2018
High School Experience: Private international high school in France and I think there were about 80 in my class.
First Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: I don’t participate in any clubs but I’ve had jobs on campus.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
For this semester, in particular, I’m only taking one Biology class. But for coursework, it’s commentary on readings maybe once a week and reading a chapter of the textbook for each class. For the higher-level classes, it’s a lot of reading current publications about current research. It’s not learning about older stuff, which I like.
Is there anything you feel the Biology department does especially well or especially poorly?
I don’t really have any criticism because they are very supportive. They have a lot of research opportunities, so I think that’s great. I’ve participated in the summer internship at Conn and I was also hired by the Biology department for a regular lab assistant job, so they have a lot of resources like that which I like.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly collaborative or competitive?
Maybe more collaborative than competitive. The classes are small so there is a lot of collaborative work like group presentations and things like that.
How was transitioning from learning in French to learning in English?
My mom is American but my first language is French. Even though my high school was international, it was in France so everybody spoke French to each other and you could always ask questions in French. So, when I moved to Conn there were some specific terms that I didn’t know, so the first semester or two were harder than the other three years.
What has been your favorite class in your major?
My favorite was my capstone, it was a microbiome class.
What has been your least favorite class in your major?
One of the core classes, the Cells class.
What’s a fun class you’ve taken outside of your major?
My ceramics class. Any ceramics course, I’ve taken two and they’re all amazing.
Why did you choose Biology? Are you happy with your choice?
I knew in high school that I wanted to go into biology because it was my favorite class. I started taking more Biology classes and that just confirmed that feeling. I’m really, really happy with my choice.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Johnson in a triple.
Sophomore: Single in Larrabee
Junior: Single in Windham
Senior: Single in Larrabee
What was your favorite living situation?
My favorite was Larrabee I think because the people were a little more relaxed, even though there is dorm damage because of people partying. It’s just a good crowd and most of my friends are in Central Campus as well, which is nice.
How was adapting to life in America after living in France? Were there systems in place to help you adapt?
I applied as an American citizen, so I’m not directly an international student, although all my friends are international and I’m considered one. I didn’t go to the international orientation, but I think it would have really helped because I know other international kids are very close to each other and that’s kind of something I kind of missed when I first arrived at Conn. I think I would recommend it, even though I didn’t do it. Otherwise, there are international parties that are organized that are usually a lot of fun. Everybody’s in a good mood.
Transitioning was an experience. I was open, I knew it was going to be different, so it didn’t go badly and nothing unexpected happened.
Can you describe the level of safety you have experienced on and around campus?
It’s very safe.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Washington Street Café
Pros and cons of being located in New London, CT?
Pros: (1) Being close to the water.
(2) I like the atmosphere of New London. It’s a little artsy with small coffee shops. Even though it appears to be dead, it’s a very nice area.
(3) The campus is amazing. Even though you’re outside of New London, just having a beautiful campus with an arboretum.
(4) It’s between Boston and New York and there is a good train system to get there.
Cons: (1) There are only a few bars. The New London nightlife is not something that I particularly enjoy because either it’s just dead or the whole campus is at the bar. There is never an in between.
(2) If you don’t have a car it’s hard to get on and off campus. The Camel Van is not the most reliable transportation system.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I don’t really go to the dances [at Crozier-Williams Student Center]. I mostly I hang out at the campus bar, hang out with my friends in my room, and go out to bars outside of New London, not the New London bars. It was very different before I was 21. Then it was more like Cro Dances and all the other campus events.
What nights of the week do you go out?
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
How was transitioning from a place where the drinking age was 18 to a place where it’s 21?
It was difficult [laughs]. I felt restricted. It’s kind of weird, but it’s part of my identity in a way and feeling like I can’t have a glass of wine with my dinner was a pain. I just felt restricted.
What have been your favorite nights at Conn?
I think campus bar trivia nights. Everybody’s there, it’s a chill atmosphere, people are drinking beers but nobodies wasted. The atmosphere is much more relaxed than the dances that are organized, people are not like extremely drunk.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Conn? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I would say I was very unhappy because of the freedom I had when I was living back in France. That was sort of taken from me when I arrived. Having to hide [that you’re drinking] is something that is not enjoyable for me, so I wasn’t going out that much. Now that I’m 21 it’s a little bit back to how I used to be when I lived in France.
How did you meet your closest friends?
My best friend was my roommate freshman year, and through her I kind of met everyone.
How would you describe the social scene at Connecticut College?
I think it’s pretty good. I think there’s a little bit for everyone. If you want to party really hard you can, but if you are looking for something more casual there are screenings of movies every Friday and ice skating and things like that. Overall, it’s pretty good.
To what extent do international students mix with domestic students?
Maybe not so much. As soon as I found a few international friends I just stuck with them. Actually, I think the students that are more exposed to different cultures, like students that studied abroad or lived abroad, I usually connect more with. Otherwise, I would say not so much.
Were there any parts of American college or Connecticut College that surprised you when you arrived?
I guess this is related to the drinking age, but the binge drinking and partying very hard just within a room to me was kind of weird.
Do you feel that people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I want to say yes, but sexual orientations probably mix more than races. [About 70% of students at Connecticut College are White.]
How happy do you feel the international community is with Conn when they graduate? Do you think they will leave loving Conn?
I don’t know, I think there are different stories. I know I will maybe because I’m half American I was exposed to this culture beforehand. I know some students want to transfer right away. It’s not for them. So maybe like a 50/50 chance people are happy or not happy after graduation.
How helpful has the career office been in terms of finding jobs in Europe?
A lot actually, especially right now. For my internship, I didn’t at all because I just contacted a professor that I had while studying abroad and I did research with them. For my job search, the career office has helped a lot. I’ve been to see them twice already.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Visit classrooms and see how the classroom works. That’s something that I think Conn does very well, just having small classrooms for higher level classes.
Also, make sure that they know that the professors are very supportive and there is a smaller student to faculty ratio. I think that’s something that is probably necessary for international students because if you just throw yourself in a huge university with no support from professors or the administration you’re probably going to feel more lost than if you were on a smaller campus. That’s something that I’m grateful for that I didn’t really think about. My sister went to a big school and had a completely different experience than I did. [The student to faculty ratio is 9:1.]
Is there anything else that you feel international students should know?
Come with an open mind and research as much as you can because some people just don’t research enough and that’s how they get disappointed. If the social scene is not something [that you like about a certain school], it’s not going to work out because that’s such a big part of college life. So, research a lot about how American socialize on campus.
Reasons to attend Connecticut College:
(1) The student to professor ratio. [The student to faculty ratio is 9:1.]
(2) The campus is beautiful.
(3) CELS funding is amazing. It helped me a lot.
(4) As a Biology student, summer research programs aren’t that hard to get because so many professors are looking for student researchers.
(5) Being forced to live on campus I think is good. Some people complain about it, but I think it’s nice that everybody’s around. [98% of students live on campus.]
Reasons to not attend Connecticut College:
This is probably just college in general, but the drinking culture is something that I don’t like.