Franklin & Marshall College
BackgroundInterview Date:October 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Private international school in Qingdao, China that was a branch of a British school. There was a graduating class of about 80 students. There was not really a culture of going to college in the U.S., about a quarter of us went to the U.S.
First-Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: Model United Nations Club and Economics Club
Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
What has been your favorite class so far?
Color and Design, it’s an Art class.
What has been your least favorite class so far?
Comparative Politics, which is a Government class.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s collaborative but is still academically intensive.
How accessible have your professors been?
They are really, really accessible. All of them are.
How was transitioning from your high school in China to Franklin & Marshall?
For me, because my high school was taught in English, the transition was not that hard. The only difference is that in my high school all the students are not native speakers, so we’re all speaking in our second language, but at F&M all the students are native speakers so there is a pressure to express myself [in class].
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Weis College House in a suite with two single rooms and a double room
Sophomore: Weis College House with one roommate
What do you like about your living situation?
The house is tidy and I like the room arrangement because it looks like a home instead of a dorm. It’s really cozy.
How was transitioning from Qingdao to Lancaster, PA?
Something good about being in a small city is there is not much to get used to because there is not much going on around the city. Something bad is that there are not many people who have the same background as me, so I have limited resources and Chinese restaurants. For me, the transitioning process is not that hard.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
It’s really, really safe. You don’t need to worry about walking on the streets because you rarely see people.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Mount Pepper. It’s really good and has real Chinese food, not American Chinese food.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Downtown. There is the Central Market and some really nice restaurants and vintage stores.
Pros and cons of being in Lancaster, PA?
Pros: (1) The city is really tranquil and quiet, so it’s a really good place to study.
(2) Although there are not that many restaurants, the restaurants here are really clean and really good.
(3) Lancaster is a really beautiful city, especially in Autumn and Spring.
Cons: (1) It’s too small and you have limited places to go. There are no big shopping malls and many places to have fun.
(2) There is not an airport, so it makes travel a bit harder because we have to take Amtrak to go to big cities and then take an airplane home.
(3) The weather here is not that good because from November to April it’s cold and snowy.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I like to hang out with my friends and we’ll have a private party together in our dorm. We also like to go to restaurants together or cook by ourselves in the dorm.
What have been some of your favorite times at Franklin & Marshall?
Life is generally quite good. There are not big moments of happiness at F&M because it’s a really quiet and calm campus. I liked the Halloween party held by the school, that was a fun time.
How happy are you with the options for weekend activities? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I think I am just okay, but I’m not sad. If I was in a big city I could explore the city and not be stuck at school. I could go to more stores and stuff. Lancaster is just so small and has very few places, so I’m restrained to the campus and doing the same activities during the weekend.
How did you meet your closest friends?
We met each other in our first math class during our first year. We were in the same class so we talked to each other more often, and then we realized we really like each other and became closer.
To what extent do you feel international students mix with domestic students?
It’s really, really not mixed. I’ve been to summer school at big universities before and there the students were more diverse and people were more willing to interact with each other. Here, I think international students spend most of their time with students from the same country. Also, our school has a really high percentage of Whites and not many people of other races. [About 57% of domestic students are White, 10% are Hispanic and 6% are Black. The number of international students at F&M is growing, as well.]
Are most of your friends Chinese?
How would you describe the overall social scene at Franklin & Marshall?
It’s obviously different from my high school because I am from China. I also think it’s different from the big universities [that I’ve spent summers at] because people are not as willing to talk to you. I feel that people are not that willing to make friends with people who are different from them. Most people are in groups of people who are similar to them, so Chinese are with Chinese and we always hang out with each other.
Was there anything about F&M or American college that surprised you when you arrived on campus?
F&M is just different than the American college experience that I pictured. It’s the same problem in terms of the ethnicity distribution and that most of the international students are Chinese, so it’s not really that diverse.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about F&M before entering as a freshman?
The city of Lancaster, because I didn’t really know the circumstances of the city. There is such a big difference between this and the big cities in the US.
What is something a prospective international student should know that we haven’t touched on?
It’s just that I feel this school is not that friendly towards international students. It’s not that diverse and inclusive, which is sad. It’s not a problem with the school, it’s a problem with the students who are here. Sometimes it does not seem that open-minded or inclusive and my friends at other American universities don’t have this problem.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
On a tour, students will see that our campus is really pretty, which it is, but I don’t think they’ll be able to see what it’s like to spend a long time on the campus.
Reasons to attend F&M:
1) You can get really, really close to professors. They are really approachable and if you want an appointment with them they are ready to help.
2) Because we are a liberal arts college, [there is flexibility in the classes you take]. You get to choose classes that you want to take, like art, film, etc.
3) You have a strong sense of community on campus.
4) The campus housing system with College Houses. It’s a good system because it gives you more of an identity on campus. There are also different activities that go on around the college houses.
Reasons to not attend F&M:
1) It’s not that diverse. [About 57% of domestic students are White, 10% are Hispanic and 6% are Black. But, the number of international students at F&M is growing.]
2) The city is small and the campus is not that big, so there is not that much to do.
3) Although I have really good classes and professors, it’s small so there are limited opportunities academically, like for research and internships.
4) The course options are not as diverse as they are at big universities because you have limited professors.