It has already been a month of classes at Hillsdale College. For some of the students, it was either the beginning of their college life or their second year. For the oldest, it was the beginning of their last year at this amazing school. I wish that I could say I fit into any of these categories, but for me, it was the beginning of a journey that started when I received my acceptance letter in Bogotá, Colombia on May 11. I had never visited Hillsdale before. All knew about it was what I found on the college website, and ever since that day I thought about what it would really be like to be here.
After a long visa process and waiting for the day of my departure, I arrived at this beautiful campus in cold-weathered Michigan. I first went to Simpson Dormitory and met most of the people who would later become my closest friends and peers at school. As I walked to my room I saw an old Homecoming poster that said, “It’s the people.” I had no idea what it meant, but it would not be long before I figured it out.
As an international student there are many things that I perceived differently: the language, the food and some cultural aspects.
Replacing the big, capital city of Colombia for this small and cozy campus in the countryside of the United States was a tough decision but I knew that things that are worthy are also uneasy. Many times, it is difficult for students to leave their homes and live away from their families, friends and the people they really care about. Students who have their families in Ohio, Illinois or even Northern Michigan feel that way. Now think about the students who have their families in Europe, Africa or, like me, South America. It can be difficult at times if you focus on the distance, but Hillsdale does not let you think about it for too long.
The people here are kind, polite, and always willing to help you if you need a hand. I would be lying if I said that I have not felt a little bit of homesickness, but people here eventually become your “college family” and make you feel as if you were home. I could not be happier with my friends, my dorm, my RAs, and all the people who have showed me that you should not fear coming here and leaving your family for some time, because you will be the new member of a very big family. I believe I can speak for all the international students when I say that Hillsdale is nothing but a marvelous and welcoming community of the very greatest students from all over the United States.
Hillsdale, beside being an excellent school for academic development, also focuses on the formation of citizens and leaders that get a broad education with the core curriculum classes, something that I had not seen as well developed as it is here. But it is not just classes and reading. It is things like getting to your room after a long day of lectures and meeting friends in the hall. It’s walking to class and seeing how everyone kindly says “Hi,” and waves at you. It is the people that make this college a completely different and unique place, a place I am happy to be.
All in all, challenges are always present in our lives, and it is how we face them that defines us. “Virtus tentamine gaudet” should also be the international students’ motto, for it takes courage to be here by yourself. But, even if you think of it as a challenge, everyone here will be making sure that you never feel like it is one. After this first month, I can say that this has been an amazing, happy, and enriching experience. I am looking forward to seeing what will come next, for this is just the beginning of the story.