First Impressions of Campus

Over the last several weeks, some 230 Global UGRADs arrived on campus in the United States and began the fall semester. This cohort has waited patiently through the last year for this opportunity,  and it is a great joy to finally see them arrive and settle into their in-person programming. We requested students to share some of their first impressions of the United States and their respective university campuses. Here are a few of those impressions:

“These weeks on the campus of the University of Kansas have been filled with learning, joy, and new friendships. During this time I have been able to meet people from many countries, learn about their traditions, and make new friends. The best part of the whole city is that it is very quiet, the people are very friendly and respectful. I also love the classes I am taking, the teachers are excellent and I hope to be able to complete my courses with the best results. It has been a process of changes, adaptations, and new experiences in academics, but I am trying to make it all an excellent adventure and learn as much as I can to be able to share all this with my colleagues back in Honduras. And, what has surprised me the most is how friendly everyone is in this city – my classmates, my teachers, and everyone has been very understanding and open to make conversation. I couldn’t be in a better place.”

– Rodolfo Aguilar, University of Kansas

Rodolfo Aguilar poses for a photo waving the Honduran flag in front of the university mascot at the University of Kansas.

“My first impression here is of the people on the campus, they like to greet you, say thank you and are willing to help open the door. Since my campus isn’t big, I like how small the number of people in the classroom is. It feels more comfortable to talk and ask the professor questions. The classes here are completely different from my home country. People mostly use electronic devices to share and exchange their thoughts, and the classes require lots of reading and writing which is very challenging for me to do because all the learning materials are in English and I have never done it before. However, I’ll try my best to overcome all the obstacles I will face here.”

– Nanongvanh Thongmanivong, West Liberty University


“Many years ago, I heard the song ‘Country Roads.’ Since this time, I was wondering: where is West Virginia and how it will be? So far, everything is exceeding my expectations. But I am still wondering about everything. With that being the interest, since the time I was in my home country, I did a lot of research about West Virginia and my current host university. At this time, I assumed that I knew everything about my host state and university in general. But, there are always surprising facts, activities, and opportunities that make me more excited about learning new things and doing something better. People I have met are always eager to do something like a slogan of the university: “Let’s Go.” That is my first impression. I didn’t expect that. Now I gain a lot of energy by talking with these people and learning what they can teach me. Honestly, I like a small campus but here the campus is huge and the population from my country is likely a few. At first, it felt difficult to be a minority in a new environment. However, because of my friends, I found an organization where I can feel secure and share my story with strangers yet friends from other countries and nationalities. I am grateful for what happened to me.”

– Aung Khant Ko, West Virginia University


“Well my first impression of the campus was how warm and accommodating everyone is. Starting from the staff and the students I live with. My favorite thing about the campus is how small it is, therefore movement is easy and everyone is nice to each other, which allows everyone to grow as a family while respecting each other and being willing to learn something new from one another. That is something you can’t help but notice. I was surprised with how everyone around is always willing to help when faced with a problem. Overall I already like the people and the campus, and therefore can’t wait to experience every minute of the entire semester.”

– Tiyamike Mkombezi, Maryville College


“My first impression on campus was “waouh huge!” As you have guessed, I was really impressed by the size of the campus which was way bigger than my university back in Niger. It felt bizarre at first. I don’t recall the number of times I got lost. But now I am much more used to the campus. I can even take you on a tour! My favorite thing about Augustana University is the inclusion of the students in campus life. Everyone here is kind and sharing good vibes. There were some students that volunteered to guide us and orient us on campus. So far, the adventure is good. I can’t wait to discover the treasure of this journey.”

– Ramatou Saley, Augustana University


“In less than a week Utica became my second home. I met incredible and supportive people, had lots of fun, and have experienced many aspects of American culture so far. First of all, the campus impressed me with its territory and number of buildings. In Ukraine it’s usually a main building and 2-3 minor buildings somewhere else in a city. Every day here I wake up and see nature, everything is green, even squirrels run around the campus. Secondly, I only had one class yesterday but it was different from home. The professor was well prepared, wrote down all assignments, explained the goal of the subject, the grading system, all requirements, even created a Google form where he asked for students’ names and information about us. My favorite thing is probably the individual approach to students. It also surprised me how open students can be in front of a teacher and vice versa. Besides, there is a variety of meals here, so you’ll definitely not stay hungry! I am really happy to be here and enjoy every second, thank you for this opportunity.”

– Daria Poprotska, Utica College