You’ve probably read many student blogs that describe college as a “life-changing experience,” but I am here to challenge that notion and say that being a Juniatian is more meaningful than that; it is a life-enhancing experience – it makes you more aware of how exciting life can be.
I don’t particularly think that you become a Juniatian; I think that you have always been a Juniatian, and all it took was enrolling to get to the place where you belong. There is a special thing about choosing to attend a liberal arts college like Juniata because you learn a lot about yourself and discover new aspects of your identity that you might never have thought existed. It makes you feel like you can transform the meaning of the word “education” and truly get out of your comfort zone to venture into different areas of knowledge and to learn new life skills.
If you asked me two years ago where I would be today, I would never have guessed that I would be sitting here writing this blog. I did not know that I was looking for Juniata until Juniata found me.
Before coming to campus, I was an online student for a year. Even though all of my interactions with people from Juniata were limited to a computer screen, I built connections very fast, and before I knew it, I was part of a community. When I finally got to PA this year, I was able to truly capture the beauty and greatness of our 300-acre campus and meet the people who contribute to its greatness. I was able to immerse myself in American culture, be part of traditions, and make new ones. Before coming to Juniata, I never thought of getting tackled by the rugby team as something that could happen. When I got here, I was able to take part in the storming of the arch and get tackled by the rugby team! I didn’t make it through, but I got very close! (The trick is to be a silent attacker.)
I also participated in an Inbound retreat, where you will meet domestic and international students and make friends before classes start, while you do different activities and explore Huntingdon’s surroundings. One of my favorite activities as an international student was the art walk, which mainly consists of a stroll through the captivating town of Huntingdon with fun stops along the way. I became friends with the owners of the shops downtown and got a pretty good list of new places to visit. I started as a stranger walking into a new shop or restaurant, and became a member of the Huntingdon community (or regular client) walking into their favorite spot to study or dine in.
I found opportunities at Juniata to exercise my professional and academic skills. I was able to become part of the Center for International Education (CIE) staff and witness the work that is done within the office to make sure other international students have a home away from home. I was given the opportunity to materialize my visions and exercise my leadership skills by leading and organizing events. I attended events that challenged me to think critically and expand my horizons. I tried a whoopie pie for the first time (or as people call them here, gobs) and if that’s not enough adventure for you, I don’t know what it is.
In all seriousness, Juniata is a place with so much potential and many doors to open; you, as a student, get to guide the potential of the community by connecting with others and expressing your individuality. Your disposition, passion, drive, and hopes are the keys to those doors, doors that can lead to growth, understanding, transcendence, and transformation.
Being an international student at Juniata College means getting hours upon hours of intercultural discourse; it means laughter among friends after a long day in the lounge; it means catching up with your professors at Jitters, or perhaps attending a story-telling event at Standing Stone. Juniata offers international students the comfort of knowing that there is the possibility of having a home away from home, but it also presents opportunities for us to venture into the unknown and bathe in the richness of a different culture.
You see, being an international student and coming all the way from another country, or even a different continent, can be threatening and scary, but Juniatians make the idea of embarking on that journey a comforting and exciting experience.