About Me Essay Tumblr Backgrounds

Change the background colour of the pages to a mint green shade.

It is said that green is a calming colour, however, the main reason why I like this, is because I can write for a much longer period of time now, as a white background I used before made my eyes dry and exhausted after just a few hours of working.

It is basically much more soft and careful to the eyes. I can’t precisely explain why that is. I think it’s that by making a pinch softer contrast of the text and the background, your eyes does not get exposed to as much light.

Just make sure to not make the background too dark, or else your eyes will get exhausted do to over-fixating the lack of contrast between text and background.

And maybe you find a nice pastel/light background shade that fits you; give it a try.

Different things work out and fits for different people. And I just felt like sharing this.

Here’s the shade numbers I used to get my preferred colour:

Thanks for reading.

Mexico: Empowerment Through Community Engagement

By Shannon Cheung

Class of 2019, School of Arts and Sciences, Member of the Honors College

During winter break, I had the opportunity to escape the unforgiving northeastern cold and spend 10 days basking in the warmth and sunshine in the Mexican state of Yucatán. Beyond that, I was able to see first-hand how cultural context can influence the ways in which social workers address problems that transcend borders.

As an incoming freshman, I always told myself I wanted to study abroad. Two years passed, but still, I hadn’t committed to it yet. In fact, I didn’t even entertain the idea. Plus, at that point, a whole semester seemed like too long to be away, for me at least. (I admit, I had never really traveled far away without my family before and the thought was a little scary.) Thankfully, after a little exploring and self-indulgent daydreaming, I found out about short-term study abroad programs offered by the Center for Global Education, applied, and committed. As cliché as it is to say, and as cliché as it is to preface this sentence that way, studying abroad was one of the best decisions I’ve made, ever.

The program I participated in - Empowerment Through Community Engagement in the Yucatán - is offered by the School of Social Work, although it isn’t limited to social work majors. During the trip, we stayed in the city of Mérida. Each day, we visited organizations and facilities where local social work students complete their own field placements: adult and juvenile prisons, a school, and a children’s shelter, among many others. My personal favorite was Tabí, a rural community of mostly indigenous (Maya) people, just outside of Mérida.

As we visited the different places, the theme of community became more and more prevalent. For example, the prisons, or social reintegration centers, were heavily focused on the rehabilitation of their residents (not prisoners) so that they could return to society as active and participating members, rather than carrying the burdensome identity of ex-convicts. They were offered vocational training, reading and writing courses, and opportunities to continue working to support their families.

At many of the sites, we were able to interact with the social workers’ clients. I danced (terribly) with talented members of a community center for the elderly. They also sang beautiful songs for us. I helped middle school students practice their English. (More like they had no other way of communicating with me because I don’t have much of a background in Spanish…)

What I enjoyed most, however, was meeting the community members of Tabí. Tabí is quite modest. It’s only got 500 people living in it, all of Maya descent, and they live in an area that is far removed from the city. Indigenous populations in Mexico, just as in many other countries, are often the most vulnerable and underserved. Yucatán is unique in that it has one of the largest indigenous populations in any Mexican state. That made it a great place to study interventions implemented by social workers to serve indigenous people.

In Tabí, we learned about a community program that aimed to educate the residents on diabetes prevention and treatment. I was also excited and honored that the local women, Rosy and Lupita, were eager to host us and share their culture with us. Working with any ethnic group requires cultural competency on the part of the professional — we didn’t get deep into discussing beliefs about science and spirituality, but we shared food and music. And that was enough for me to feel connected to people whose language I could neither understand nor speak.

Here, Lupita, the woman’s representative of Tabí, is wearing traditional Mayan clothing which is worn to special events. She wears a crown and sash because she is this year’s woman’s rep.

We all tried our hand at making tortillas. (To my future employers and grad school admissions committees: my mediocre tortilla-making is definitely not a reflection of my work quality, output, and skills.)

Rosy, an elderly woman within the community, graciously opened her doors to us so that we could have a space to learn about the health program. She also prepared a delicious lunch for all of us. Here, two of the local kids followed us to her house and posed in front of Rosy’s Christmas decorations. They really liked being in front of cameras.

The best part of Tabí was the kids. They were very curious about their visitors and weren’t shy about approaching us. I spent the whole time wishing I could speak and understand Spanish. One girl, Jackie, was so incredibly sweet. She told me I was bonita (beautiful)and my heart instantly melted into a puddle… Luckily, it’s one of the few Spanish words I know.

In addition to site visits, there were a few free days for less-academic excursions. We used these days to go to Uxmal, the remains of a great Mayan city, and to cenotes, natural pools of freshwater which are characteristic of the Yucatán geography.

To say that my trip to Mexico was impactful would be a huge understatement. It was instrumental in my growth as a future social worker, as a student, and as a person. Yes, I had trouble communicating throughout my trip, but my biggest takeaway was this: cultural exchange and human connection don’t require much talking after all. We were met with warmth and hospitality. Strangers greeted one another anywhere and at any time of the day. Smiles and laughter are universal.

Humbling and rewarding, the time I spent in Yucatán gave me an amazing chance to examine and celebrate differences. I loved meeting new people and seeing my colleagues, other social work students, working in their fields. In our differences, we also found similarities, and though I already had a passion for service and helping others, somehow I came back to America with a (more?) steeled resolve to commit myself to serving people wherever I can. I’m grateful to the Honors College and benefactor of the study abroad scholarship; to my professor, Dr. Davis, for leading and mentoring us during the program; and, of course, to our wonderfully inviting hosts in Mérida and Tabí. (And my parents for helping me out with the costs. Hi Mom and Dad.)


College to Co-op to Career

By Simran Fernandes

Class of 2019, Rutgers Business School, Member of the Honors College

It’s a tough route, but the view from the destination will be marvelous! … It’s an opportunity to learn from within the business world what you can’t learn within the classroom.”

That’s what I had last written about the internship search. I was right – it was a tough route but every minute of the result was worth it! I spent the last five months working fulltime as a Consumer Marketing Co-op at Johnson & Johnson, learning about brand management and the corporate environment. As a marketing major, I’ve had various internships but not with a global Fortune 50 company. With their world headquarters located next to the New Brunswick train station, Johnson & Johnson has partnered closely with Rutgers for several years and is one of the biggest recruiters of Rutgers graduates.

While there, I worked with the global LISTERINE® team; my projects ranged from innovation to data analytics to communications. Some highlights include leading a cross-functional team, working with various agencies, conducting consumer research, and providing recommendations that could shape a new line of LISTERINE® products! Apart from these technical experiences, I learned a lot about time management due to balancing my night classes with my co-op, for which I earned six credits! I further developed my other soft skills like leadership, teamwork, problem solving, and confidence. From my first weeks with the team, I gave a 5-minute presentation at the weekly meeting. Barely two months later, I organized my own 90-minute meeting to present my global competitive analysis with teams from all around the world.

Speaking of my team – everyone was so willing to help a new hire learning about every facet of marketing. They invited me to meetings and team lunches, and shared information about their projects to aid my understanding. Additionally, I worked closely with my manager, who encouraged my success and connected me with other valuable contacts across the organization to learn more about various roles and responsibilities. This helped me to construct a solid network and gain visibility.

Another part of my J&J experience was the Intern & Co-op Association (ICA), an organization for temporary hires to come together in a supportive atmosphere. A collection of students from schools across NJ and PA, the co-ops worked in departments like finance, IT, corporate equity, supply chain, and marketing. I bonded with many others and formed friendships that have lasted beyond the duration of our experience.

When Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico, I knew we had to help. As the Community Outreach Chair of the ICA, I spearheaded a fundraising drive to donate adult diapers to maintain the survivors’ dignity and their personal hygiene. Due to everyone’s support, our drive was successful – with nearly $3,000 raised! This non-profit service effort showed me how my marketing background can be used to help people in other areas of the world.

If I could summarize my Johnson & Johnson co-op, I would say: this opportunity helped me grow as a marketer, as a professional, and as a student by allowing me to push myself in ways I would never have imagined. The experience reaffirmed my decision to study marketing because it exposed me to different aspects of the field, developed my competencies, and gave me insights into my ideal future career. My time with the company was an incredible experience and I learned so much from every minute. At the end of these five months, I’m also interested in future opportunities with Johnson & Johnson. For now, it’s back to the search – I’m looking for another marketing internship to expand my skills and to build my network further!


Yes, The Internship Struggle Is Worth It.

By Simran Fernandes
Class of 2019, Rutgers Business School, Member of the Honors College​

The internship search… intimidating and overwhelming, yet simultaneously the best way to learn about any field! “The internship search involves research, outreach, and persistence. It can be an arduous process, but the opportunity to dive into an area of professional interest is well-worth the effort,” says Andrea Rydel, Assistant Dean of Professional Development at the Honors College. It’s tough, no doubt, but the Honors College and Rutgers both provide useful resources for students to get internships that provide helpful learning experiences for future careers.

Notice what I said there? Yes, the Honors College has an assistant dean dedicated to helping students in the sphere of professional development! Dean Rydel has helped me and my peers with tips on our resumes, advice on networking, mock interviews, and much more; additionally, through her weekly newsletters on leadership programs and other recruitment opportunities, I was able to secure a Digital Communications internship at a company that works towards women’s empowerment! Through the Honors College’s winternship program, a one-week internship over winter break with different organizations around New Jersey, I spent a week with Rutgers University Press where I analyzed their social media and honed my digital marketing skills. Another important opportunity that the Honors College offers is the annual Networking Soiree in April, where current students can meet Rutgers alumni from different industries in a casual setting to learn about a variety of career options, make meaningful connections, and swap stories with alums!

University Career Services, available to all Rutgers students, provides mock interviews, resume advice, and plenty of other opportunities for students to start exploring the world of work. Career Knight is the university’s jobs portal where students can interact with career services or apply directly for hundreds of job opportunities; personally, I spend at least half an hour daily on this website applying for various jobs and signing up for different networking events! There’s beauty in numbers; sending out more applications gives you a higher chance of getting selected. Don’t be afraid to share your resume with everyone; the secret is all in who you know. The power of networking means that someone you know may know someone else who’s looking for an intern just like you!

I choose to look at it as a journey: yes, it’s a tough route with obstacles like interviews along the way, but the view from the destination will be marvelous! Yes, it’s tedious and time-consuming now, but will pay a huge return on investment when you get your dream job. It’s an opportunity to step into the business world and learn a great deal from behind-the-scenes in a company – there are some things you just can’t learn within the four walls of a classroom.


Reflection on a Study Abroad Experience

By Briony Smith

Class of 2019, School of Arts and Sciences, Member of the Honors College

The strangest thing about coming back from study abroad is how quickly you forget that it ever happened. It’s remarkable and disturbing how easy it has been to return to my pre-study abroad mindset, and associated with that is an odd sense of guilt: I don’t feel like a completely different person, and that means that I didn’t do study abroad right.

There are times, when I’m sitting in class taking notes, or chatting with friends who haven’t gone abroad, or shuffling around my schedule, that the entire semester away seems like a dream that I only half remember in the brief moments after I wake up. By far the strangest, and most painful, experience has been sitting in training to be a Global Ambassador for the Study Abroad office and thinking to myself, “I already studied abroad. My semester abroad is over.” It’s as if I carried around this tension for years, waiting for the chance to study abroad, and the return to normality at Rutgers makes it feel as if the tension never dissipated like it should have.

But there are also moments, generally quiet and unforeseen, when I remember Santiago as clearly as if I had never left: suddenly, I can almost hear the people selling candy bars in the metro, yelling out what they have and the prices so quickly that it barely sounds like they are speaking at all. I remember a quirk of Chilean Spanish, a word I had almost forgotten until I feel the sudden urge to call something bacán instead of cool. I miss my host family and the freedom inherent in living in a big city. I miss speaking Spanish – and even though I’m taking three separate Spanish classes this semester, it doesn’t feel the same. I miss certain professors, and certain friends, and above all I miss the Andes mountains, a perpetual backdrop to life in Santiago. When I see pictures from friends doing a full year in Chile, I’m hit by an irrational surge of jealousy. I have been there. I have done those things. In a way, I’m grieving that I’m not there anymore.

My study abroad experience was marked by several different phases. When I arrived, I was shocked by how different it was from my expectations, and that quickly segued into culture shock, aggravated by the fact that my first host family was not particularly supportive. After I began to travel more and switched host families, my experience improved immensely.

If I had the chance to do it again there are things I would do very differently. I would have switched host families as soon as I discovered that my host mom was a smoker. I would have traveled more often, and taken easier classes. Although I loved certain classes, like my Conservative Thought class, I might have switched my Political and Economic Development of Chile class for a chance to learn the basics of Mapudungun, the indigenous language in Chile. I wish that I had taken more time to explore the city, and I wish that I had made Chilean friends earlier on (easier said than done – Chilean students, and especially girls, are notoriously slow to befriend “gringas”). I wish that I had gone sandboarding in the Atacama, and I wish that I had made it to Patagonia and to Argentina.

I think what they don’t tell you, when you’re preparing to go abroad, is that these kinds of regrets are normal. It’s why my roommate, Mathilde, who studied abroad in Valencia, and I both wish we had had more time in our respective countries. It’s why we were in the study abroad office today and picked up several fliers for summer study abroad programs (we’re already “repeat offenders” on study abroad, and it appears neither of us have had enough). They don’t tell you, when you’re getting ready to leave, how easy it is to feel guilty that every single day of your study abroad experience isn’t an amazing adventure. Instead, study abroad is several small adventures – horseback riding in the Andes Mountains, stargazing in the Atacama, visiting Machu Picchu, trying llama meat in a small town on your way back from a daybreak geyser and hot spring tour – interspersed with days when all you do is go to class, or catch a movie, or write an essay.

Study abroad has changed me, even if I don’t feel like a completely different person. The changes were small, and gradual, so that I didn’t notice them as they happened, and they were sometimes in ways that I’m not entirely comfortable sharing in a blog post. Nobody has remarked that I seem different, but it’s worth noting that I haven’t spent a lot of time with friends who weren’t in constant contact with me while I was away (the reactions I get when I see these friends for the first time are highly entertaining: they look at me like I’m a ghost come back from the dead). The changes that I can see in myself are that I’m self-aware in ways that I wasn’t before, slower to anger, and less phased by stressful situations. I’m also better aware of the importance of a strong community and the difference that it can make in your happiness.

I also think that the entire experience helped to reinforce my identity as a citizen of the United States. At the end of my experience, and even though I miss Chile desperately now, I was ready to come home to my family. For all that I want to travel the entire world, the United States will always be my home base – a place to come home to for Christmas and to see my family. It’s a strange quirk of being abroad, that you feel more American than ever – partly it’s the fact that that is how you are perceived by everyone around you. While I was abroad, I was expected by practically everyone that I met to answer for, or at least express an opinion on, the decisions of this country. The other factor at play is how much you suddenly find that you have in common with the other Americans. They understand your culture shock, and they hate and love the same things that you hate and love about the country that you’re in.

Study abroad is something that everyone should do if they have the chance. It’s an immensely fun experience, with opportunities that you will never have by staying in New Jersey at Rutgers. I have eaten seafood on a small archipelago of islands called Chiloe, and friends of mine hiked up an active volcano. The classes you have the chance to take can be incredibly interesting and expose you to a variety of viewpoints that you would not otherwise receive: my Conservative Thought class is possibly my favorite class that I have ever had. Personal growth is practically inevitable.

I could probably talk about study abroad for the rest of my life. Writing this piece has been particularly emotional for me because it’s the first time since returning that I have reflected critically on the experience. It’s a difficult thing to explain to someone who hasn’t done it themselves, and even with people who have been on study abroad, there’s something of a hesitancy to talk about the complexity of the emotions that surround it. I wouldn’t call it the happiest time of my life – that distinction remains reserved for a period of three weeks in Massachusetts the summer after my freshman year of high school – but it was one of the most interesting and the most influential periods of my life up to this point. I’m so incredibly glad that I had the opportunity to do it, and I hope that everyone else gets the chance to do it at some point before they graduate from Rutgers.


The Impact of Involvement

By Kaitlyn San Miguel

Class of 2019, School of Arts and Sciences, Member of the Honors College  

“I feel like I’m going through a breakup,” I melodramatically tell one of my friends about my decision to leave the Honors College Student Advisory Board after this year.

“End of an era,” he responds.

For the last two years, I’ve spent two hours every Friday during the school year in the Honors College East Seminar Room planning events, laying out student goals for the HC, interacting with students and staff about events and initiatives they’d like to create, advocating for things students want, and forming partnerships with different Rutgers organizations, New Brunswick nonprofits, and other universities. My role as Community Service Coordinator of SAB has encompassed general SAB meetings, office hours, executive board meetings, committee meetings, event staffing, and countless hours spent in the Student Leadership Office throwing around ideas and pieces of paper.

For me, SAB has been more than just an organization. It’s allowed me to join a larger community of passionate, ambitious, hardworking HC student leaders who motivate me to do better and be better. It’s connected me with people—Rutgers staff members, New Brunswick community leaders, even Penn State Schreyer Honors College students—who are just as crazy as me about creating positive impacts.

Having the opportunity to create an organization from scratch and to play a role in forming the foundation of an honors institution within an already-established, tradition-soaked, 250-year-old institution as a student has been amazing, exciting, and at times frustrating. But the best part of SAB and of being an HC student leader? Creating close friendships rooted in curiosity, knowledge, purpose, and struggling to put posters in those giant frames around the building.

#KaitlynSanMiguel#submission RUHonorsCollegeNB#submission

Winter Is Coming!

By Harry Nicolaou
Class of 2019, School of Arts and Sciences, Member of the Honors College

Remember that monster snowstorm from last winter? Well we Honors College students aren’t ones to let an opportunity slip by. In a battle for the ages fought with blood, sweat, and tears (Ok, maybe not that extreme), we made the most of the storm with a massive snowball fight right in the Honors College courtyard. It was a day filled with soaring victories, crushing defeats, and lots and lots of snow. Get ready Class of 2020! Winter is coming! (Yes, that was a Game of Thrones pun.)


Giving Back and Serving Others

By Kaitlyn San Miguel

Class of 2019, School of Arts and Sciences, Member of the Honors College  

This year, I’ve had the honor of interviewing some amazing Honors College second-year students about community service and why they give back, and it’s been absolutely inspiring.

These are students who have shown real commitment to service during their time at Rutgers. They’ve danced hours to raise thousands of dollars for the Embrace Kids Foundation, provided companionship for senior citizens in nursing homes and hospices, started up tutoring programs for local New Brunswick children, and so much more. They make positive impacts in others’ lives in small and large ways, and they don’t ask for recognition. They love what they do and do what they love.

It’s easy to see the Honors College community service requirement and groan. Do we really have to do 30 hours of community service before the end of our third year? Wasn’t our social innovation project for the Honors College Mission course enough? Did the deans just tack on community service to give us another requirement to fulfill?

Community service can be hard. It’s not easy to spend a day picking up trash in New Brunswick for Scarlet Day of Service, or waking up at 8 on a Saturday morning to volunteer at a food bank 45 minutes away from your dorm. But if you find a cause you care strongly about and surround yourself with people who care about what you care about, serving a community tied to that cause can be exhilarating.

It’s also important to remember that giving back to a community can take on many forms. Service doesn’t have to be building houses as part of a humanitarian relief project or volunteering with cancer patients at your local hospital. It can be something as seemingly simple as donating items to a food pantry and having a discussion about food insecurity.

How will you give back?


Still Working on that Global Perspective!

By Simran Fernandes
Class of 2019, Rutgers Business School, Member of the Honors College​

This summer, while I was back home for the break, I went through several periods of self-doubt. Was I really doing all that I could to get involved on campus? Was I really making the most of my college experience? I came to the US to college for more than just education: I came for the overall experience – clubs, community service, networking, leadership programs. Thus, to reassure my worries, I made a midsummer resolution: that I would get more involved while not compromising my GPA.

It’s been four months since I made that personal vow, and so far, I feel like I’m really succeeding! Getting involved in mentoring programs and the e-boards of different organizations, attending more events, meeting new people, networking with companies at career fairs, and generally putting myself out there.

As you may have read in my previous post, I’m not really an international student. However, I love celebrating diversity and multiculturalism, which is why I decided to get involved in two different clubs on campus – Women’s International and Multicultural Association (WIMA) and the International Student Association (ISA)! Both of these clubs focus on the international experience and connecting people from different cultures to learn more about the world and broaden people’s perspectives, which are some of my key life objectives. I was honored enough to apply and be selected for the e-boards of each of these clubs, so I have kept my promise to get involved on campus!

Being involved with these clubs has enabled me to be part of smaller communities amidst the entire Rutgers population, which is something that keeps me grounded even among the thousands of students here. WIMA has provided me with a strong network of women who provide different viewpoints and experiences that educate me about women’s rights and feminism from diverse angles. I was a general body member of ISA last year, so being on the e-board this year is a great leap forward – we have a tightknit team of people who are always willing to help each other out, whether with club work, academics, or even personal issues.

Joining these clubs has been one of the highlights of my semester so far. It’s a fun way to alleviate the demands of a stressful semester and to get to bond with people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I would definitely recommend joining clubs to any student; college is not only about fulfilling your academic potential, but also about developing your individual identity, and clubs are truly the best way to do that!


Major Mess

By Kaitlyn San Miguel
Class of 2019, School of Arts and Sciences, Member of the Honors College

It’s my weekend home, and some relatives from out of town are visiting. My family is crammed around a table that’s filled with all the homemade food I miss when staying on campus. We’re listening to my older brother talk about his work as an aerospace engineer, a field he was passionate about since middle school. The conversation is focused on him, and I’m reaching for some rice when suddenly-

“So, Kaitlyn, how about you? What are you majoring in again?” my aunt asks, looking at me innocently.

Oh no. I almost drop my plate.

For some people, the question is a simple one, the answer easy. Cell biology and neuroscience! Information tech and informatics! Economics! The first week of college, I was sure I was going to be a microbiology major on a pre-med track. By the second week, I was considering also double majoring in public health. By the end of the first month, I had already called my mom to let her know that I was planning to double major in biological sciences and English while staying on a pre-med track. By the end of the first wave of exams, I was in my academic advisor’s office, asking about the process of school-to- school
transfers at Rutgers so I could do English and journalism/ media studies.

I later learned that other people–people who lived on my floor, sat across from me in class, brainstormed with me at meetings, people who seemed like they have it all figured out–don’t really know what they’re doing either. They’re interested in business but are also considering pre-med. They like computer science, art history, Spanish, psychology, and everything in-between. I used to think that everyone but me knew exactly what they wanted: which major, which minor, which career, which Netflix show to marathon next. College showed me that very few people actually know what they’re doing, and that it’s totally fine to switch your major two or six times. Whether there aren’t any majors you’re interested in or there are eight, you have plenty of time to figure things out, even if it doesn’t seem that way.


Chile: Both Closer and Farther from Home

By Briony Smith
Class of 2019, School of Arts and Sciences, Member of the Honors College

Santiago de Chile is an ugly city, sunken, perpetually overhung in the winter by a noxious smog, with architecture that is notable only for its monotony. August is the height of the winter, and rain should come, washing away the smog, yet this year I have not seen a drop of rain since the day I arrived. The buildings don’t have central heating, so in the early morning and at night, I find myself smothered in blankets trying to keep out the pervasive cold. The endless concrete and unremarkable buildings are in sharp contrast to São Paulo, the last South American city I visited, where even in the midst of its own ugly, urban sprawl, it felt like the earth could not contain the life that flourished within it.

And yet.

In the morning, when I leave my apartment building where I live with Verónica, my host mom, there is a bodega across the street, painted a faded orange, and inside we buy the fresh fruits and bananas that I eat for snacks. Behind it, high over its tin roof and the tiled roofs of the more expensive houses that surround it, the Andes mountains rise like jagged teeth, their snowcapped peaks piercing the sky. As I walk to the bus stop, flowering bushes and trees climb over the walls of the houses, even in winter bearing yellow and pink blooms, like flecks of paint against the smog. And therein lies the charm of this paradoxical city.

Despite the smog, despite the concrete, Santiago sits, cradled by the Andes. Every time I see them, it takes my breath away. I was warned before I came (and after I came) that Chileans are not as open as other Latin Americans. They are warier, less exposed to other countries, more homogenous, the slowly fading result of nearly thirty years of U.S. backed dictatorship. It’s apparent in the casual racism, if it can be called that, against Peruvian and Colombian immigrants, and in the way people shy away from us students, when we pass by in a large group of loud English speakers. Yet, individually, I have found Chileans to be kind, welcoming people. More than once I have been helped on the subway (the metro) or the bus (the micro) by a complete stranger: “This train doesn’t go any further. Are you going to Los Dominicos? Wait for the next one. It will be here in a minute.” “This is the last bus stop. Where are you trying to go? Calm down, don’t worry. This was the wrong direction, take that bus instead.”Verónica has been exceptionally welcoming, as has her whole family, inviting me to the family “asados” or barbecues, where I quickly became friends with Vero’s niece, Francisca, or Panchi. Panchi’s younger sister’s boyfriend has helped me to get around the city and to find where my classes are. People I have met through Panchi have been equally welcoming, commenting on my accent perhaps, but eager to teach me, or to practice their own English. The atmosphere seems to be that as long as you are making an attempt, Chileans are willing to help you. And to teach you the slang.

The language here is hard, the result of geographical and political isolation. The Spanish is slurred and rapid, peppered with colorful chilenismos that even other Latin Americans struggle to understand. But, like many things, it is not as daunting as it first appears. In just my two and a half weeks in Santiago, my
Spanish has improved tremendously. Before I was hesitant to try my Spanish, paralyzed at the thought of making a grammatical error. Now, I speak quickly, just to keep up with conversation, caring more about being understood than about keeping my grammar perfect.

Study abroad is hard. It’s not a vacation; you’re living in a country for three to six months. Some days you stay at home and watch Netflix, some days you spend getting your visa registered, other days you hike ten miles in the Andes to the foot of a waterfall. Santiago is different than I expected it to be, both closer and farther from home. But I have four more months here, and I can’t wait to see what all Santiago and Chile have to offer.


My Second Family

By Simran Fernandes
Class of 2019, Rutgers Business School, Member of the Honors College​

My name’s Simran Fernandes and I’m 7812 miles away from home. “Wow” you might say, “how does it feel to be an international student?“ That’s the thing; I’m not an international student. Yes, my home is where my family is, and my family currently lives in Mumbai, India, but I’m an American citizen and I’ve lived most of my life in this country. Rutgers has provided me the opportunity to sustain my Indian heritage while accepting American traditions as well. The diversity available at this university has allowed my own personality to blossom as people here are very accepting of various backgrounds.

Nevertheless, I still struggle with homesickness. Whether it’s missing my family or my city, there will be certain times where people or things around me will remind me of home and my eyes will tear up. However, I do have a saving grace - my friends. Even though I’ve only known them since moving to the HC last August, they are the people who I can count on the most. They support me in every way: when I need a shoulder to lean on, when I need someone to make me laugh, and when I need someone to discuss our favorite fandoms or the latest news with. They make sure I get sufficient sleep, eat regularly, and take study breaks. I’m so grateful that I have them in my life because they have become my second family, my home away from home.

My name is Simran Fernandes and my home is with my friends.


A Magical Dorm Room Tour

By Harry Nicolaou
Class of 2019, School of Arts and Sciences, Member of the Honors College

So what’s it like living in Hogwarts? Well, this is probably as close as you’ll ever get. Take a trip with me on this magical tour around my room as I show you the ins and outs of a Rutgers Honors College dorm room and what to bring with you as you enter college.


To Kenya and Back

By Tristen Wallace
Class of 2019, School of Engineering, Member of the Honors College

I traveled to Kenya over winter break this year with Rutgers Engineers Without Borders. Our team included five other students and two engineering mentors. We stayed in the village of Kolunje where most people don’t have electricity or plumbing though everyone has a cell phone and the charging hub is about five miles away. 

Our work there focused on a clean water supply and distribution system for two local schools, as well as hydrogeological testing to determine a site where we could drill a well. We also focused on teaching the community about water safety and sanitation—this education piece was key and my interdisciplinary studies at the HC were really helpful. I connected with the students there as well as the beautiful countryside, which I was able to capture with my camera. The people are very open and warm. At the end of our trip, we had a very special send-off where everyone formed a circle and said what they were thankful for. We topped our work off with a two-day safari!


Reflections: From a Second-Year to a First-Year

By Shannon Cheung
Class of 2019, School of Arts and Sciences, Member of the Honors College 

To the incoming freshman, afraid and excited all at once:

Welcome! I love it here, and you will too.

Rutgers in and of itself is one big community, around sixty-seven thousand strong. It’s cool that so many of us are connected by the Scarlet Knight identity, but still, I admit, it’s intimidating as well. I’ve always been a fan of smaller, more intimate group settings, so how did Rutgers ever end up being a place I’ve come to call home?

The Rutgers community is comprised of so many smaller ones, and you can be in as many of them as you want. My greatest motivation for anything has come from the communities that I’ve built with my peers. Being here, surrounded by so many others, gives you ten thousand possible ways to connect with others.

The best way to connect, however, is by joining a club (or clubs). Cultural, sexual, religious, etc. identity clubs. Sports clubs. Activism clubs. Hobby clubs. Volunteering clubs. Professional clubs. You get the idea. Rutgers boasts a buffet of student organizations that we probably don’t even have the physical capacity to fill up on. That’s the beauty of it. There’s so many niche clubs that you’re bound to meet plenty of relatable people as long as you take the first step and attend any meetings that spark even a hint of your interest. The people you meet are the ones that you can wind down with at the end of the day, letting go of whatever struggles you encountered earlier and enjoying each other’s presence, as well as the thing that brought you all together in the same room at 10:00pm on a Tuesday night.

Inaugural Honors College Residence Hall Association

At a certain point, however, you’ll probably start to remember that you’re not just here to go to clubs, that this is still school and you’re steering your own academic and career paths now. When you come to that realization read this next letter.

To the first-year student, stressing out about the first wave of exams coming up, struggling to stay involved in all the clubs you intended on going to, and maybe even questioning your career path:

Hi, how are you? No, how are you really? Breathe deeply. Have you been eating breakfast? Hydrating yourself? Sleeping 7 to 8 hours a day?

It’s my sincere hope that you’re adjusting to this new lifestyle okay. I hope you’re meeting new people. Most importantly, I hope you’re able to find some peace and quiet in the midst of all the chaos. I love Rutgers as much as the next person, but sometimes you need to retreat, and that’s okay. Club meetings are supposed to be fun. You’re supposed to want to go to them. If they’ve become a chore or if they’ve become too much to handle on top of school, consider taking a break or re-evaluating your study schedule.

If you’re beginning to question your academic path or the workload you’ve taken on this semester, speak to an adviser! As a first-year HC student, your adviser is literally just a few floors away. Take advantage of that! Your adviser is here to – you guessed it – advise. Ask questions, and ask lots of them. If they don’t have the answer, they’ll guide you to someone who does have the answer. Over time you’ll figure out your passions and interests on your own, but advisers are there to guide you in achieving your changing goals.

Rutgers is great for getting involved, but it’s also really amazing at providing support. In addition to your adviser, as well as an extensive network of peer mentors, Rutgers has such programs as HOPE (Health Outreach, Promotion, and Education) and CAPS (Counseling, ADAP, and Psychiatric Services), which you may have heard about. What you haven’t heard enough about, probably, is that you shouldn’t shortchange yourself because “someone else has it worse.” Your experiences are real and your feelings are valid. These programs are here to help all students.

Lastly, give yourself some leeway in your schedule to do something that you enjoy with the people you care about. Every once in a while, take a break from putting on programs for people and participate! Pie your friends in the face for charity (see below)! Friends are going to be there throughout the good and bad; they’re the ones who are going to lift you up when you’re not feeling strong enough to do it yourself. Take time out of your busy schedule to de-stress with them!


Meet Harry Nicolaou

Honors College student Harry (‘19/SAS) is double majoring in statistics and psychology to study patterns in human behavior, in hopes that he can help people overcome mental health issues and disabilities. In looking at challenges in the world, Harry would like to help remove barriers that prevent people from reaching their full potential as measured by their dreams, not their wallets. A filmmaker, he likens his family to My Big Fat Greek Wedding and says it’s crazy fun. A lover of the Yankees, Maroon 5, his grandma’s spinach pie, and the color ‘true blue,’ Harry prefers to share his HC experience through video. Stay tuned!


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