BackgroundInterview Date:October 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Private American international school in the Netherlands with a graduating class of about 100 people. Basically, everyone went to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Exercise Science
Minors: Psychology and Neuroscience double minor
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in Greek life, I am in an exercise science club, and I play intramural sports.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Greek life did.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
Homework for my Exercise Science classes is very intense. Depending on the course, you have different websites you have to go on. Reading is not homework, but you have to do it to keep up with the coursework. Most of the homework is making sure you’re on top of things, research, and practice problems for the classes you need to do practice problems for.
Is there anything you feel the Exercise Science department does especially well or poorly?
As of now, they’re trying to get more interaction between the students and the professors. For example, there’s a club that’s part of the graduate school and a lot of the professors and undergrad students are trying to join it because it’s all about getting to know the professors you’re working with. The Exercise Science department at Elon is very small so we want to make it small and intimate so you can be very close to everyone. With that being said, because the program is small a lot of the professors are very well versed in the classes that are taught because they have to switch around frequently. One of the main things that helps is the area we live in is so small, so having connections with the professors will help us get connections in real life.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s competitive, but people are willing to help. [It’s competitive because] with Exercise Science you have to be on top of your game or you will fall behind.
What is your favorite class in your major so far?
Anatomy. I think I learned so much in that class. The school has a cadaver lab, which not many undergraduate schools have, so I think that is very cool.
What is your least favorite class in your major so far?
Biomechanics. I thought it was very difficult and it’s a very specific course. It’s very math oriented and most of my major is biology oriented. I still found parts of it interesting.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
Coming into Elon we had to do a survey about our interests, and they put me into Introduction to Exercise Science, and I didn’t even think twice about it. I knew I wanted to be involved in physical activity one way or the other, and the more I learned about it the more I liked it. I got very lucky in the first place because I had no idea what I wanted to do when I got to college.
I’m very happy with my choice. Sometimes, because it’s a heavy course load with labs and everything, I second guess myself. But I think back on all the experiences that I’ve had in the professional field that I want to go into it makes me realize that all my doubts are not worth it.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Global C with one roommate and we shared a bathroom with two other girls.
Sophomore: Danieley J, which is basically an apartment building with eight other people and you shared a bathroom with four other people.
Junior: Off-campus house with two other girls. I have my room, a shared bathroom, and I have my own kitchen.
What was your favorite living situation?
My sophomore year because there were always people around. I also lucked out with the people I lived with.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on campus?
My freshman year I went running every morning at 6:30AM and I still like to go running at night and I feel completely safe. However, that was on campus. Now that I’m living off campus, which is just a 5-minute walk from campus, I get a little nervous in the morning because it’s so dark. Nothing’s happened, but it’s just the idea that I’m not on campus anymore makes me
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I don’t really have one. I usually just go running. Otherwise, I like to go to a coffee shop to do homework. Even though there are usually Elon people around, it’s nice to change your environment.
Pros and cons of being in Elon, NC?
Pros: (1) It creates a little community of Elon. It’s more of a campus than a city or a town environment.
Cons: (1) There’s not a lot around. The biggest city is Greensboro, which is 20-minutes away. It’s not that far away, but making the drive can be kind of a hassle.
(2) The community environment creates an Elon bubble in that you stay at Elon and only stay at Elon. You don’t really go anywhere else.
(3) You have to drive to get to places. Freshman year when I didn’t have a car it was tough.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
Falling asleep [laughs]. I go to a party maybe twice or three times a month. I usually just like to hang out with friends, go to dinner, or maybe see a movie.
Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year?
It’s a very small university so everyone can walk everywhere. Usually, you go to multiple parties every night. Because it’s such a Greek life-oriented school, most people go to Greek parties. The ratio at the parties is heavily female. Most of the time you go out with your girlfriends and then meet up at a fraternity. It’s really difficult with mixed genders, so most of the time you go out with girls. Actual parties start around midnight.
What have been some of your favorite times at school so far?
Spending time with girls in my sorority I think. They’re the backbone of making my experience at Elon, so spending time with them is really, really meaningful to me. I spend time cultivating those relationships because I know they’re always going to be there after I graduate. Sure, being in a sorority is great, but it gives you the opportunity to get to know people who are different than you.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
Very, very big. We have group-chats with all the fraternities to be able to know what’s going on on-campus. My first semester when I was unaffiliated I had no idea what was going on. The only reason I knew how parties were going on was that people would tell me about them. Joining a Greek life organization is how you get involved with the nightlife.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Elon? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m not very happy about it because it is not the environment that I like to surround myself with. I do enjoy going out sometimes, and this could be because of the environment I grew up in and being able to drink at such a young age, but I feel like coming to the States a lot of people here haven’t experienced that. I see a lot more binge drinking and going out to get wasted, rather than going out to have a good time. I struggle with that because I go out to make friends and socialize, while a lot of people go out to forget about the week and get hammered. However, I feel that Elon has been trying to have different opportunities for people who don’t want to do that, like movies and other activities.
How was transitioning from your high school in the Netherlands to school in the United States?
It was really difficult. I thought I was going to be fine because I went to American high school and had a lot of American friends and the environment would be very similar, but the environment was very different. In addition to that, I also thought that after moving around all my life it wouldn’t be any different, but college is a different level on its own. Having my parents live halfway across the world was hard sometimes. It’s also hard for me because a lot of people at Elon are from the North in similar areas. Some people already knew each other, and it’s hard for people who don’t have that. It was a very different environment than what I had in my head, but after time it was okay. I think college is a hard transition in general, so I don’t know if it was because of my personal situation or because college is hard in general. [The top states where people come from are NC, MA, NJ, NY, CT, and MD].
Are there systems in place to help international students adapt? If so, how helpful are they?
Yeah, they have a program where you come in a few days before to get situated and meet everyone else who is international. I think that’s very helpful because you can meet people who are going through similar things that you are. After that, we have the international center where you can go to if you need anything. But, because the international population at Elon is so small, it’s very hard to keep up with everyone. It’s like you see people around and you forget about the international community that was created. [In 2016, there were 89 international undergraduate students.]
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through my sorority. Some of my closest friends were also friends of friends and also my classes.
To what extent do you think international students and domestic students mix socially?
I think they mix fairly well. I think I do an okay job. For people who this is their first time leaving their home country, I think they create little cliques because those are the people that they’re used to. I think Elon does make it work because there is an international center where a lot of Americans can go in, but there are still groups within the international community.
How would you describe the social scene at Elon?
There’s Greek life, and then you have the athletes, and club sports and other club groups. Those are the main groups I can think of. Sometimes they mix among one another, but they don’t really.
How would you describe the student body?
I think Elon attracts a very specific type of person who comes to this school, and I think that is why Greek life is so big.
Do you think people are generally happy with their choice of Elon?
I think it’s a mix. I think the older you get the more you enjoy your time here. I have heard a lot of people who complain about Elon. I think that goes back to the fact that Elon attracts a very specific type of person, which is fine, but sometimes people don’t really realize that when they come here. I think throughout time people like it more.
Were there any parts of Elon or American college overall that surprised you when you arrived on campus?
I had never been in the South, and I came during a time in which politics was very involved in American society. That influenced my transition in Elon. I think that had a big impact because I had never really discussed politics to the degree that people do here.
Also, I had always been told that if I were to go to school in America the schoolwork would be very easy, and I thought that was true my freshman year. I took a sophomore level class my second semester and realized that that was just because I was taking entry-level classes.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
No, it hasn’t. However, it has helped me when I was looking for internships and I mentioned I was at Elon and I had one person in the company reach out to me because her dad went to Elon.
Have you learned any computer programs that will help you professionally?
For Chemistry, we used a lot of Excel. I haven’t gotten certified or anything like that.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Elon before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew about the environment with Greek life before. I knew what Greek life was, but didn’t know [much else]. I also wish I knew about the area. I don’t think I researched enough about the areas that the schools I looked into were in, but I don’t think that would have changed my mind.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Greek life. Sometimes it can be perceived as not being a big part of the student life, but it is.
Is there something that a prospective international student should know that we haven’t touched on?
For internationals coming to college, know that it’s your time and it’s up to you to do what you want with it. Especially for international students, if you don’t keep up with your work and your papers, it could potentially have an impact on whether you can come back to school or not. Also, be prepared for the legal procedures that are coming your way.
Reasons to attend Elon:
1) Small class sizes
2) Beautiful campus
3) Because it’s a small school it gives you a lot of good connections after graduation because people at Elon are from all over.
4) It’s academically a good school.
Reasons to not attend Elon:
1) If somebody is not very into parties and Greek life
2) It’s nowhere near a city. It’s in the middle of nowhere.
3) Even though there is diversity of people from all over the United States, there are not many international students. [In 2016, there were 89 international undergraduate students.]