BackgroundInterview Date:October 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: South Asian/Bengali
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2022
High School Experience: School in Bangladesh with 150 students in the graduating class.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Extracurricular Activities: South Asian Organization (EKTA).
What is your favorite class and least favorite class you have taken?
My favorite class so far is Introduction to English, where the format is a discussion between the professor and the students. It didn’t involve many lectures or note taking which I enjoyed. My least favorite class so far was my chemistry course.
Is there anything you especially like or dislike about the academics at Smith so far?
Not really, I think Smith is an excellent place for you to excel academically. They encourage you to come to office hours and things like that.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s collaborative. It can also get competitive because everyone is really smart around here, and people help each other learn in class.
How was it transitioning as an international student to the academics at Smith?
It’s not that big of a deal. I think it was pretty easy, especially since the professors are aware people are coming from different backgrounds. I never felt shy to ask about something if I didn’t understand.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Sessions House with no roommate
How was transitioning from Bangladesh to Northampton, MA?
The transition has been a little weird and I’m still not totally used to it. Where I’m from in the capital city of Bangladesh, it’s noisy and busy. Northampton seems pretty different in the sense that it’s quiet. Despite these differences, the connections I’ve made have really helped my transition.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
It’s top notch. Every time there is some incident a mass email gets sent out to the students so everyone is aware of what is going on.
Pros and Cons of located in Northampton, MA?
1) It’s small and everyone is insanely nice.
2) It’s a very safe place where you don’t have to worry about what you are doing or wearing. You can be whoever you want.
1) It’s very small and the food options or clothing stores are very expensive. You have to take a bus ride to Southampton to get to the Target. The mall is about 30 minutes away. [Smith College is a 16-minute drive to Southampton.]
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Smith?
Mostly just exploring downtown Northampton. It’s a small town with restaurants. Other than that, Northampton is pretty dead. We use the bus system that lets you visit 4 other colleges on the weekend. [The consortium includes Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and UMass.] There are few parties at Smith, but even on the weekends there isn’t much of a party culture. It’s more of a get together in somebody’s room.
Can you describe a typical night going out?
We usually decide to get Chinese at a place in Northampton called Oriental Taste [A 5-minute drive from campus], then go back and watch a movie in somebody’s room. If others are up for it, we might go to UMass. [UMass to Smith College is 20 minutes.]
How happy are you with the weekend options at Smith? Is there anything you would change if you could?
It’s been a difficult transition, and I’m not that happy with it. I knew Smith prioritized academics but I didn’t realize it was to such a high degree. I don’t know what to do to blow off steam because most people do this by staying at home by themselves.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Smith is very accommodating for international students. They put on a whole international orientation session where we broke off into groups before general orientation began. This is where I met most of my closest friends.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
Pretty nice, everyone is really friendly.
To what extent do you feel international students and domestic students mix socially?
I see it happening, but for the most part I don’t have many interactions. There was a whole week of getting to know the other international students before regular orientation, so by the end of our session we were all pretty tired out. The domestic students went through the same activities, just a week later which didn’t provide much incentive for the international students to meet people again. Races typically stick together a lot but this seems natural.
Were there parts of Smith, or American college as a whole, that surprised you?
Not really, no.
How do you like going to an all woman’s school?
It’s a weird transition, but it’s a different experience in itself. It seems like we only really meet new people if we go out to UMass on the weekends. At Smith, it seems like there aren’t that many extroverts which makes it hard to interact with the other gender. It makes you feel like you are losing touch in a way, but it’s also a great place to explore and grow academically. If you are into college romance, you may be a little disheartened here.
How strong is the Asian and International community at Smith?
As an international student, we have events every week. The specific orientations for us also helped a lot. For Asians, they have a club called the Asian Student Association where we get to hang out.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Smith before entering as a freshman?
I knew it wasn’t a party school but I wish I knew how serious the environment was. Once you arrive you will find your niche, but you have to be on your A-game all the time because it does get competitive and makes you want to be better.
What is something an international student should know that hasn’t been touched on?
It’s a good place for an international student. People want to make sure you are transitioning properly, so they are really focused on you. They don’t just disregard your experiences because you are international. If you come from a big city, it may be weird because Northampton is pretty small [Northampton, MA has a population of 28.554]. I would say the culture is on the liberal side, but once you get here it’s not that noticeable.
Reasons to attend Smith:
1) The academics are really great.
2) Even if you don’t want to spend all you time at Smith, you are in a 5-college consortium, allowing you to take classes at other colleges.
3) If you want a supportive environment where you won’t be judged easily, the environment here is very open and you can be accepted.
4) Financial aid is pretty good. As an international student, I was blown away by the amount of financial aid they gave me.
Reasons to not attend Smith:
1) You won’t get the typical college experience.
2) The general opinions and perspectives are pretty skewed to one side of the spectrum.
3) It seems like there isn’t much to do on the weekends.