University of Michigan
BackgroundInterview Date:November 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Half Peruvian and Half Japanese
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in New York City, NY with a graduating class of about 250 students. Mostly everyone went to college.
First Generation College Student: In the U.S., yes. My parents went to college in South America.
Major: I haven’t declared yet, but I’m considering Computer Science and the Pre-Med track
Minor: I haven’t declared yet, but I’m considering Biochemistry
Extracurricular Activities: I’m really involved in La Casa, which is the Latinx community on campus. I volunteer for Assisting Latinas to Maximize Achievement (ALMA), which is an orientation program for incoming Latina students. I’m part of the Engineering Student Government, specifically part of the Diversity and Equity Committee. I also did research at the medical hospital.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Doing research at the hospital allowed me to understand my interest in medicine because I’m thinking of doing pre-med and going to medical school. That also geared me to see what parts of medicine I’m interested in.
How easy was it to get involved in research at the hospital?
It was pretty easy because it was through UROP, the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program.
What has been your favorite class far?
EECS 280, Programming and Introductory Data Structures. It was a very intense programming class about C++.
What has been your least favorite so far?
Economics 101 because the exams were so hard.
Is there anything that you feel Michigan has done especially well or poorly so far academically?
When I took Calculus classes we had [Graduate Student Instructors (GSI’s)] teaching us, and they varied a lot. Some students had much better GSI’s that allowed them to do better than other students. Some GSI’s just didn’t know how to properly or successfully teach students about the topic. Something they did well was how in the really big classes the professors are still pretty accessible to their students.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It is very competitive. Sometimes people do try to help you as much as they can, but you have to look for that guidance and help.
How accessible have your professors been?
If the course is a lot smaller, you get a lot closer with them. In the Comprehensive Studies Program courses, they usually have a small classroom setting and the professors offer more office hours and are more interested in each student in their class. In the big lectures the professors aren’t usually the ones you interact with to learn the material. Instead, it’s tutors or graduate student instructors or teaching assistants.
How was transitioning academically as a first-generation student?
In the beginning, it was a little bit hard, but I was also pretty lucky because I was admitted to a summer program called MSTEM. That was a six-week program over the summer where we took courses but they didn’t count towards your GPA to create a similar environment to what I would have in the upcoming year. It was a lot of fun too because I was able to make friends before the school year started, so once school started I already had familiar faces on campus. I still have really good friends from that and I think my transition was much easier than others, so I was lucky in that sense.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Bursley Hall on North Campus with one roommate.
Sophomore: Off-campus apartment near South Quad with three other roommates.
What has been your favorite living situation?
I really enjoyed both, but I think I like the apartment more because you’re a lot freer to do what you like. There are pros and cons to living in the dorms, like living in Bursley allowed me to be more social because there would be other people down the hall that you could meet and they had a lot of activities that you could do to get together with the people in your hall. Living in an apartment is also good if you have friends you know you want to live with. You also become more responsible for cooking and stuff.
How was transitioning from New York City to Ann Arbor, MI?
It’s kind of tough because I miss home a lot and traveling back home can get pretty expensive. I think I have a good support system here that allows me to not always be missing home. It was tough at first because I miss family and rarely get to go to a [family home] unless I go with my friends who live in Michigan.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
Personally, I haven’t really experienced any danger. I’ve always felt pretty safe on campus even though I’m currently living outside of campus. The campus is so big that it doesn’t really feel like I’m off campus. I’ve always felt pretty safe, but I know there have been situations like robberies. [In Ann Arbor, there are 22.04 property crimes per 1,000 residents, which is lower than the national median of 24, and 2.4 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, which is lower than the national median of 4.]
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Even though it’s on campus, I usually like to go to the stacks in the library because they have really small rooms for yourself and everything is quiet, so that’s nice.
Pros and Cons of being in Ann Arbor, MI?
Pros: (1) There are a lot of houses available to students near campus.
Cons: (1) I need to go to the airport to go home, so that’s hard because usually there are buses on campus to take you to the airport but that is only on holidays. It can be annoying to get to the airport during the semester.
(2) The distance from a more city-like environment. [It’s a 45-minute drive to Detroit.]
(3) It’s a lot colder than it is in New York.
(4) The bus system in Ann Arbor is usually not on schedule, which is annoying when you want to get somewhere quickly.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Michigan?
Sometimes we’ll go out to a party and sometimes we’ll just stay at home and watch a movie and eat food. Usually, the parties we go to are frat parties.
Can you describe a typical night going out your freshman year?
Yeah, usually freshman year there would be a big group of us who would take the bus all the way down to Central Campus and then walk to a frat party. We’d always go in a group because we want to be safe. Usually we’d go to a party, have some fun, and then after we’d grab something to eat. Depending on what time it was we’d take the bus or call an Uber back home.
As a person who is not in Greek life, what is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
I have a lot of friends who are in Greek life, so it’s a big thing because the parties that you can find are always with Greek life. My friends who are part of it usually take me and know where to go so it’s a lot easier.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Michigan? Is there anything you would change if you could?
In the beginning of the fall semester, the first two months are pretty lively during the weekends. But, as the cold weather comes there are a lot less people. I’m happy with it. The area of Ann Arbor where U of M is very lively, so that’s nice. I’m used to being in New York where it’s really loud and it isn’t always dead silent here and doesn’t feel too suburban. There are also a lot of activities available on campus.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met them through ALMA. The programs I’ve joined in the past are where I’ve made the closest friendships, for example, I also have a lot of friends still through MSTEM.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s pretty good I guess. I like that I can walk around campus and see new faces that I don’t recognize, and then also friends that I’ve recently met or friends that I haven’t seen in a while. My social life is pretty good. I have a good support system and I get along with a good amount of people.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
When it comes to race specifically, it’s nice to have friends who you can connect with based on your background. For example, my close friends are all Latinx students, and that is because we can connect in different ways. I also have close friends who are not Latinx. For me personally, I enjoy learning about my culture and I appreciate them teaching me about it. I do think there is a tendency to get close with the students who are of your own race or background.
What have been some of your favorite times at Michigan?
I really like the first few weeks of the fall semester because it’s not too cold, it’s not too hot, and classes haven’t picked up yet. September is also the Latinx heritage month, so that is always nice because there are a lot of activities during that time. There are also new first-year students, so it’s just a much more lively time of the semester.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Michigan before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how hard classes were going to be. I wish I knew how different classes are and time management is in comparison to that of high school.
What is something a prospective Latinx student should know that we haven’t touched on?
How to get more involved in the Latinx community. Any Latinx students should know that there’s a good community to feel at home even though they’re far from home. The community also helps people career-wise. La Casa and other groups have programs that will help them develop new skills and learn new things from other students.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
There are a lot of restaurants around campus in the Ann Arbor area that are pretty good. My favorite is Frita Batidos.
Reasons to attend Michigan:
1) Michigan is a Big 10 school, so it’s always really lively and there is a lot of school spirit, especially during football season.
2) It’s academically challenging. If somebody wants to learn a lot and get out of their comfort zone, come to Michigan.
3) Michigan allows students to create new organizations or build new projects and programs that may help other students.
4) There are a lot of networking opportunities. I’ve been able to network with alumni that work with current students and staff. It’s a large network.
Reasons to not attend Michigan:
1) It gets really, really cold. The weather changes a lot too. It will be nice and sunny in the morning and then later it’s raining or snowing.
2) It can be really expensive in Ann Arbor and to go to Michigan.
3) It’s far from home.