BY VICTORIA HERNANDEZ
Wondering about the new international students on campus this year? Here is a sneak peek into their lives, how they feel about being away from home and their perspective towards our school so far.
At Manhattan College, students’ homes range from 37 different countries, according to the school website. Debbi Damico, the International Student Advisor, said MC attracts these students mostly by the appeal of living in a big city which also makes looking for internships an easier process.
To get to know more about the feeling of moving away from a home country, three international students were interviewed.
Tony Ramirez, a senior student from France, said he chose MC because it’s a good US college.
“It also has a transfer partnership with my last university,” said the mechanical engineering major. “Since I love engineering and will like to specialize in ‘green’ buildings, so MC was the perfect choice for me. Plus it’s close to NYC.”
During the short amount of time Ramirez has spent at MC, he confesses there have been some challenges.
“Meeting new people [was a challenge] because I didn’t know anybody when I came,” he said. “Also, speaking English…I had to improve it because I wasn’t really good…all my classes are in English so that’s a big challenge.”
“Everything here is bigger,” he said when asked what the main difference is between his native country and the U.S. “In France, we don’t have fraternities or sororities. Also, it’s the first time I’ve been in such a diverse campus where there’s different majors. I come from a school of engineering only where there were not any facilities like the fitness center, dining hall and a big library.”
On the other hand, Maria Nieto Villamandos, a freshman student from Spain, is excited about
being part of the MC campus.
“I love it so far,” she said with a big smile. Her favorite thing about MC is “the student activities, for sure.”
Nieto Villamandos chose MC because it’s a small school and everyone is very close to each other, and faculty members have a very close relationship with students.
“I felt this was a community since I came here,” she said. “I know that if I have any problems in the future I could go to anybody for help.”
Nieto Villamandos said being away from her family at the same time that she is starting in a new place with new classes and new people is a big challenge.
“However, being in the Arches program and having available all the school resources has helped me adapt pretty fast,” she said.
For Nieto Villamandos, the biggest difference between education at MC and a Spanish university is that, “In Spain, the professors don’t have office hours and are not as willing to help as here.”
Lastly, Rita Damiron, a junior student from the Dominican Republic, said New York is very similar to her country, but the main difference is the weather.
“I come from the Caribbean,” she said.
“Here, I just depend on myself,” she said when asked about her favorite thing at MC. “I am able to do things on my own and not counting on someone pushes me to do more.”
Her plan for the winter break is to visit her family, who luckily lives in New York as well.
After each interview, the big question was, “Do you miss your family?”
Everyone looked down because of the personal question, but the unanimous answer was “Yes.”
“Sure, it’s the first time I have been so far from my family and friends,” Ramirez said.
“It feels good to learn to be independent,” Nieto Villamandos said.
One thing is for sure, these students represent people who left their comfort zone to discover themselves in a whole new environment, which requires facing challenges every day. The international students undeniable took a big step by coming to MC.