Indiana University – Bloomington
BackgroundInterview Date:June 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Puerto Rican
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: Normally I would graduate in May of 2019, but because I’m a member of the Indiana University Chinese Flagship, I’m required to graduate officially in May of 2020. In May of 2019, I will walk in the ceremony but I won’t be able to receive my diploma and all the paperwork until 2020. I will be in China, so when I come back is when I will on paper officially graduate.
High School Experience: Public high school in Indiana with a graduating class of about 330 students. You could tell that the students in the more AP/Honors courses would end up going to college, but for students that weren’t in those types of classes, it was up in the air whether they were going to college. Instead of going to college some went into the armed forces.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Minor: Chinese, through the program, and also Psychology
Extracurricular Activities: The flagship is kind of my main extracurricular activity. It’s a program all on its own, but they guide you and tell you what classes you need to take in order to facilitate the requirements to earn the minor in Chinese. I’m also part of a medical fraternity called Phi Delta Epsilon and we’re focused on keeping the IU community up to date on what’s going on in medicine. Phi Delta Epsilon fraternities are typically affiliated with a Miracle Network Hospital, ours is the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, so we’ll do philanthropic work and try to get the community to be aware of all the great things that hospital does for kids in need.
Can you tell me more about the language program you are a part of?
It’s called the Indiana University Chinese Flagship and it is a language flagship created by the U.S. Department of Defense. The program was designed to teach students to become fluent in one of the U.S. government’s nine target languages, and one of those is Mandarin Chinese. The goal is to become fluent within the four years of your undergraduate time at college. So, you’ll go from literally knowing nothing to be able to hold a conversation in Chinese. I’m required to understand the basics of Chinese and be able to speak, but on top of that, since I’m a biochemistry major, I’m also required to know either chemistry terms or medical terms because the program will later require you to work and study in China for one year. My goal is to work at either a pharmaceutical company or some sort of hospital in China.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
For the Biochemistry degree, in my personal experience, you take about 16 credits or higher every semester. Our school maxes out at 18 and if you were to go above that if you have pay fees. The Biochemistry degree at IU is one of the densest, so students who want to pursue a degree in Biochemistry be prepared for the workload because it is really heavy sometimes. We have a lot of labs. Indiana requires students to take the highest branches of all sciences. For example, if you are required to take a physics course, IU offers an algebraic-based course or a calculus-based course, but Biochemistry majors are required to take the calculus-based course because it’s more rigorous. That goes for all the branches we have to take, whether it’s biology, chemistry, physics, or any other hard sciences.
In terms of the softer sciences, like psychology or sociology, that depends on what you want. I took a medical based sociology course because I’m premed, and I took more of a statistical psychology course rather than a broad-spectrum course.
Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
I wouldn’t say my experience with any of my classes has been poor. Our professors are highly trained in their fields and I feel that our work is very comprehensive. I feel that our work is very comprehensive. We dig deep into each of the fields of science, whether it’s in biochemistry specifically or chemistry or biology. It just comes down to that there’s so much to cover and so much content to cover I kind of feel like my head’s going to explode. My experiences with all my classes and professors have been really positive.
Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
Our classes are set up to have teamwork, especially with our lab courses. You’re normally paired with a lab partner, so there are a lot of opportunities to have teamwork and those skills worked on. It is competitive because a lot of students that I’m with are either trying to get to higher levels of graduate school for research or they want to pursue medical school, and because of that students can be competitive. I don’t think that the professors promote that competitive atmosphere, it’s self-made within the students. At times I feel like it might be a little unhealthy and students need to take a step back and see the big picture. You get farther when you work with people rather than trying to do everything by yourself. So, at times it does feel competitive, but we still have a sense of if I have a problem they’re going to help you.
Why did you choose the combination of your major and the language program? Are you happy with your choice?
My reason for choosing Biochemistry was because back in high school we had a program called Project Lead the Way, which is to help students understand what is in the medical field. There are two divisions, the engineering and the biomedical, and I chose the biomedical because I was interested in becoming a doctor and didn’t want to just study biology or just study chemistry. I found out that IU has a Biochemistry degree and I chose the Bachelor of Science instead of the Bachelor of Arts because it goes more in-depth in science, as opposed to having a more broad-spectrum humanitarian aspect to it.
In terms of the Chinese flagship program, I decided to do that because back when I was maybe about 8 I made the promise to myself that I was going to be fluent in a language. From then until my senior year of high school I studied Japanese on and off. My high school got a Chinese course my senior year, and I took it and realized I had more interest in Chinese than Japanese. I happened to stumble upon the flagship when I was looking at my videos about my college on YouTube. I would consider myself really lucky because my school is one of twelve universities in the U.S. to have a Chinese Flagship.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
IU has four neighborhoods, and each dorm can be classified within the quality of the dorm, there is cooperative, standard, and enhanced.
Freshman: Eigenmann is a standard dorm, but my room specifically was enhanced. I had a lofted bed and our sides were dived by a pony wall. Everybody on that floor shared a bathroom.
Sophomore: Spruce Hall, it’s really modern. The room was split up so my roommate and I had individual rooms with doors to our own rooms and a shared bathroom.
Junior: I lived in an apartment called Campus View. I lived with one other roommate and our apartment was a two-bedroom one bathroom, and we had a small living room/kitchen open concept room.
Senior: Same apartment as Junior year with the same roommate
What was your favorite living situation?
I think probably the apartment just because it’s a little bit quieter and has a more homey feel than a dorm would.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I feel that IU is a pretty safe campus. You’re kind of in a bubble, and then as soon as you leave the campus, you’re like, “Oh okay, this feels different.” Throughout campus we have the blue light system. You can be escorted by the police if need be. We also have different taxi services that students can all and be taken home. I would walk home from the library at midnight with a friend or by myself and the whole way I felt completely safe, but that doesn’t me you shouldn’t be vigilant. For the most part, I feel pretty safe on our campus regardless of what day it is or what time it is.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I personally don’t get off campus a lot because of work, but when I have, it would be one of my friends’ apartments off campus or Griffey Lake. A lot of students will go there and hike or sit on the dock and talk with their friends.
Pros and cons of being in Bloomington, IN?
Pros: (1) I think on the campus specifically there’s a lot of diversity in culture. We have this thing called Culture of Care, which is this mutual understanding between students of looking out for each other and accepting differences whether that’s in ideas or ethnicity or whatever it is.
(2) Then off-campus, the city has a lot of different organizations and restaurants and stores. There’s always something to do.
Cons: Because we’re college students and are in a college town, the prices are kind of expensive. It can be pricey depending on where you’re shopping. Beyond that, I don’t know, I’ve been pretty content.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Indiana?
I know a lot of people would consider IU a big party school. I personally don’t go out and party a lot because my coursework is so heavy that if you miss a day you will fall behind. There really isn’t much time to go out and party. What we do on the weekends is just go to somebody’s apartment to watch TV and relax just because of how chaotic the week can be sometimes.
Are your friends also Biochemistry majors?
A majority of my friends are either in chemistry or biology. Biochemistry is kind of a small group on campus. There is a decent amount of people that drop out junior and senior year because they don’t like it or find that it’s too difficult.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Indiana? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I would say that I’ve been very happy with our options. IU is a pretty big school. There’s a lot of diversity, which I really appreciate. There’s always something going on and the campus has a lot of resources, like clubs, activities, and support groups. At IU there is always something to do and you will always be able to find your clique on campus.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I actually had some friends from my high school go to the same university, so I’ve made some friends that way. My freshman year I actually participated in the IU Marching Hundred Band, which is the main representing athletic band for the university, and through the band I made a lot of good friends. The second major group would be the Chinese Flagship, and I would actually consider the kids I met in the flagship probably my family on campus, they’re probably the people I’m closest to.
How would you describe the social scene at IU?
[18% of students are a part of Greek life], so we have a lot of interactions with different fraternities and sororities. In terms of that social aspect, students participate in parties that fraternities and sororities might be holding.
In terms of being social in general, I think our classes are set up in a way so that you naturally form friendships with students. You have your lectures which are normal, but the bonding experience you get in the discussion classes or being in lab, and then just hanging out together in the library or your friend’s house when you study. That’s kind of my personal experience, I met a lot of my friends through classes or teaming up to work on homework or whatever. Because there are so many students at IU and in the STEM degrees, it was really easy for me to find my group and make friends with people. I feel like if you were to go, it’s really easy to make friends.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I mentioned earlier that we have this organization called Culture of Care that promotes a “culture of care.” There are a lot of different ethnic groups on campus, whether that’s Chinese, Japanese, Black students, and White students. Being Puerto Rican myself, I actually haven’t met a whole lot of Latinos on campus. In terms of people of different sexual identities, I think IU and the students are pretty accepting, so I haven’t heard a whole lot of issues with that. In my [professional] fraternity, we have all different types of races and backgrounds and sexual orientations and that was never an issue. I think in general IU is a pretty diverse and accepting community.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Not yet, I haven’t really worked with any alumni. I have however gone to different meetings with the alumni from the Chinese flagship where it’s kind of a banquet to hear their stories about how they continue to use their Chinese and their future occupations.
Have you used the career office? If so, how helpful were they?
Since I’m a science student, we have something called HPPLC, which is the Health Professions and Pre-Law Center. It’s a counseling center for people pursuing a medical degree or something in law. I’ll either go use their website or email a counselor about, you know, “Should I take this class for medical school?” They act as guides, along with our major advisers. I have advisers for Biochemistry, Psychology, the Chinese Flagship advisers, and [the HPPLC adviser], so I have four counseling organizations I can reach out to if I have questions.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Indiana before entering as a freshman?
Make sure to make connections with your professors or your [teaching assistants]. Networking is really crucial just because they can help you work through issues that you have had or they might be able to connect you with people who might be able to help you. Also, make relationships with any of your advisors regardless of what organization they are associated with.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I’d check out the Mom and Pop kind of stores around that you wouldn’t really find until you actually decided to explore the city or the campus itself.
Reasons to attend Indiana:
1) The culture and atmosphere is really accepting and safe feeling.
2) You have a ton of different resources and organizations
3) We have the Kelley School of Business, the Jacobs School of Music, which is one of the top conservatories, and our science department is world known.
4) We have a wide variety of different organizations that you can participate in whether that’s Greek life or different cultural organizations
Reasons to not attend Indiana:
If you are out of state, then tuition pricing. I’m happy with my experience, I don’t have a whole lot that I’m upset about. [Total costs for out of state students for the 2018-2019 academic year is $49,554.]