International Students Reflect on First Quarter at Kalamazoo College

By Justina Kilumelume and Olivia Nalugya

Last fall, approximately 62 international students joined Kalamazoo College’s student body from various parts of the world, including Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Europe. After roughly five months, many are happy and proud to look back on their journey.

It is common knowledge that time moves quickly at K. We are only given ten weeks to accomplish so much.

“I was so shocked that I had an exam after just four weeks!” said Maria-Isabel, a visiting international student from Elquado.

“I realized I had to start working right away because time goes by so fast,” added José Diaz, a visiting student from Mexico.

For others like Shanice Buys ‘17 from Zimbabwe, the fast pace somehow helps her cope with homesickness.“I feel like there was so much to take in that I didn’t have time to miss home,” Buys said.

Regardless of how fast fall quarter went by, international students still found some time to enjoy certain aspects of the College.

“I got settled in this new environment much more quickly than I expected to. I think it was the excitement of being in a new place,” said Vishakha Choudhary ’17, from India. “The classes went well too, but I realized they were much more challenging than I expected. It is a good kind of challenge, though, and I found a really good bunch of friends too,” Choudhary said.

Students, especially first years, also appreciated the emphasis on independent thought at K, which is not very common in the education system of their respective countries.

“At home, there’s not much class participation and development of your own thoughts is not really encouraged. There is more of a focus on receiving information and simply giving it back,” Buys said. “It was nice to know that I was improving when it came to articulating my thoughts and ideas, but sometimes I just wanted to go to class to be taught, and not have to ’think’ about things so much.”

Now that they’ve had a taste of how things work at K, international students feel more confident about the new quarter and are looking forward to experiencing and exploring various components of the college.

“I’m looking forward to more experiences, not just cultural experiences, but with jobs and education,” Choudhary said. “I’m hoping to apply for some sort of internship for the end of this year, or maybe for the upcoming summer.”

Others also hope to interact more with national students and enjoy the benefits that the interactions might add to their international experience.